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Bad boys in the highway

IFP Editorial: Highway projects are always bogged down by land compensation issues and harassment from militant groups. It is for the state to lay down the rule of law and thwart any issue detrimental to the implementation of projects with an iron hand.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated 13 Jun 2022, 7:10 pm

Representational Image (PHOTO: IFP)
Representational Image (PHOTO: IFP)

Of late, the National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) have become a sounding board for airing frustration against the state of our national highways more particularly after the incident of Irang bridge collapse and fatal accidents at Likhru Korii bridge. Both state officials and trucker associations have been crying foul of the indifferent attitude shown by NHIDCL officials.

When the Bailey bridge over Irang River was washed away by the current after heavy rains in the pre-monsoon downpour, there were allegations of NHIDCL not taking up action immediately. Recently, when three trucks slipped downhill at Likhru Korii Bridge located between Makhan and Chakumai in Senapati districtin succession within a month’s time NHIDCL was slow to react in taking up corrective measures to prevent further accidents.

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Works Minister Govindas Konthoujam himself went down to Senapati and he warned NHIDCL officials that if they are not serious of discharging their responsibility of maintaining the highways under their watch he will write to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The development and maintenance of about 85 percent of the two important national highways had been taken over by NHIDCL in recent times and there had been murmurs of protest in the state Works department. Refuting the allegations, NHIDCL said they had taken over the particular portion of the highway only in May this year.

More recently, Works Minister Govindas on Sunday instructed to immediately stop the construction work of Reinforced Cement Concrete (RCC) drain on both sides of the stretch from Oriental College gate to Keithelmanbi under National Highway-37 (Imphal-Jiribam road). Earlier the state PWD Chief Engineer Mr Temba had opined that the RCC drains on both sides of the highway was completely unnecessary.

For the present, NHIDCL had been charged with up gradation of the stretch into a two lane highway while the state had been mounting pressure on the Union minister for the upgradation of NH-37 to a four-lane highway. He also made an allegation that the entire RCC drain construction work on both sides of the national highway has to be stopped immediately as NHIDCL is attempting to speed up the construction in order to get their finance bill faster without even considering whether the construction may affect the people or not in the future. Serious allegations indeed.

One remembers that state PWD officials had always been critical of central agencies handling the development and maintenance of our national highways and in the past, BRO and BRTF were the villains in the sorry state of affairs in the national highways and the target of civil society organisations. In a way, BRO’s work in the national highways were not up to the mark and there was lethargy. But, it is not so in the case of NHIDCL. The evidence of good work done by NHIDCL could be seen in the Pallel-Moreh portion of the national highway so also the completion of RCC bridges over Makru and Barak river on the Imphal-Jiribam highway.

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The work of RCC bridge over Irang River is in full progress, as well as stretches of good highways on Imphal-Jiribam road is there for everyone to see. Finding fault with others is easy. However, we have to own up our own shortcomings also. Earlier, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari had warned the state government for failing to resolve the problems which had led to unnecessary delay in the implementation of highway projects. Just as the Union Minister said, the implementation part of the highway projects were far from satisfactory and it was mostly because of unresolved issues of land compensation and law and order problems.

Minister Gadkari even questioned the responsibility of the state leadership which had failed to resolve the compensation issue and law and order problems. He said, there will always be problems but that it has to be resolved by hook or crook so that the highway projects are implemented in time. Highway projects are always bogged down by land compensation issues and harassment from militant groups. It is for the state to lay down the rule of law and thwart any issue detrimental to the implementation of projects with an iron hand. Still, the state government is unable to resolve the issue.

- EDITORIAL

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First published:13 Jun 2022, 7:10 pm

Tags:

National highwayNHIDCLland compensationGovindas konthoujamIrang River

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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