Restoration of connectivity across the Khongsang to Noney stretch of National Highway-37 Imphal-Jiribam road is unlikely to take place soon as the Irang River continues to rage owing to incessant rains since the past few days.
The Irang Bailey Bridge had collapsed on May 12 after the swift current of the river washed away its foundation. For the time being, the government had advised to use the alternative route via Khoupum to Rengpang.
When a team of media persons inspected the ongoing repair (restoration) works of Irang Bailey Bridge, construction of new RCC bridge over Irang river and overall condition of the National Highway, it was learnt that the workers cannot carry on with the repair works because of the swift current.
Project Manager of Paratech Constructions Pvt Ltd Nituram Bhagat, who has been overseeing the construction of RCC bridge, said that the company is willing to lend a hand in restoration and repair works. However, it cannot be carried out for the time being as the river is raging, he said.
While National Highways Infrastructure and Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) is responsible for the repairing and restoration works of the Irang Bailey Bridge, he said that at least a month will be taken in restoring connectivity.
Talking about the construction of the RCC bridge over the Irang River, he said that the project is 30 percent completed so far. Even though the target was to complete it in July, he said that the project completion might take a year due to various hindrances.
Meanwhile, the highway was in a bad shape with potholes and debris of landslides resulting from road cutting for the widening of NH-37 to 2-lane with paved shoulders in various areas.
It is also learnt that the highway expansion project from Oriental College to Jiribam has been hampered by alleged red-tapism and delay in land acquisition and compensation.
During an interaction with reporters, social activist Albert Gangmei from Charoi Pangdongba (Pongringrong) village expressed disappointment over the delay in compensation of affected land owners despite repeated appeals.
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He said that competent agencies have already completed the survey two years ago and requisite documents have been submitted yet the compensation has not been released till date.
He further said that the affected landowners will soon obstruct all highway expansion works if they are not duly compensated at the earliest.
He also cautioned that they will launch various forms of democratic agitations if necessary steps and suitable measures for compensation are not taken without further delay.
Meanwhile, reliable sources from among the contractors engaged in the project alleged that NHIDCL and officials concerned of state government are withholding funds meant for the land compensation and necessary bills for the contractors, thereby delaying the work progress.
While the project was expected to complete within 18 months, almost nine months have lapsed according to the sources.
They also expressed suspicion whether alleged withholding of funds by NHIDCL and the inaction of the state govt in this regard even after funds have been sanctioned by the central government is intentionally done to cater to their own personal benefits.
Considering all these circumstances, the expansion and overall development of NH-37, which is considered as Manipur’s second lifeline, is unlikely to be accomplished in the near future.