Chief Minister N Biren Singh has all the reasons to celebrate. It was a God given timely gift from Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari as he laid the foundation stones for 13 highway projects and inaugurated a Road Safety project in Manipur, and announced that the DPR for an elevated road in Imphal is being prepared and within two-three months, work on this project will begin.
Come elections, these highway projects would come into play for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) campaign, as good highway infrastructure is always appreciated for a landlocked state like Manipur. The 25 km elevated road project for Imphal has been a dream project for the chief minister. The projects involve a road length of 316 km, with construction value of about Rs 3,000 crore, for better connectivity, convenience and economic growth in the state.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari while laying the foundation stones of Rs 3,000-crore highway projects said that the Government will soon take up additional projects worth Rs 16,023 crore in the state. He also promised to expedite the ongoing Rs 2,250-crore highway works in the state and termed it his priority. These include a 106.5-km four-lane project between Kohima and Imphal at Rs 2,663 crore, a 220-km four-lane project on a stretch of NH-37 from Imphal to Jiribam at Rs 5,425 crore, and a 118-km two-lane project on NH-129A at Rs 1,765 crore.
Manipur’s highways has always been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Not to talk of the lethargic progress in road construction activities whichever agency handles the highway stretches, the frequent landslides and soil condition of the state has added its share of difficulties. One does not talk of the frequent highway bandhs and blockades anymore, as the BJP-led government has succeeded in preventing it through a pro-active approach.
According to experts, generally Manipur’s soil is loamy sand to silty clay loam. It has less water holding capacity and is dry in nature. Chemically acidic soil abound resulting from the washing down of the salts in rainwater and also on account of leaching effect. The rock system is weak and unstable, prone to frequent seismic influence. The state is also seismically active and characterized by frequent landslides.
So, technological intervention is very much required in road construction from now on. Systematic, well-designed research provides the most effective approach to the solution of many problems facing highway administrators and engineers. Highway departments need to collaborate with the related departments of the universities and other experts in the field. Latest technologies used in road construction should be studied to find suitability in Manipur’s context. This would go a long way in building a good road and highway network for the state, including the interior and border areas and maintaining it.
With good road and highway network, other developmental activities will naturally follow besides reducing the hill-valley gap in development perception. It also entails the reach of governance to the remote frontiers and increased social interaction between the various communities of the state.