NH-53 on the verge of total collapse
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 04, 2010: Quite contrary to the bold declaration of Works Minister K Ranjit to make Imphal-Jiribam highway a fully motorable highway by the 14th of the current month, the highway is fast deteriorating and may soon be not traffic worthy.

It is feared that the highway would be impassable for any heavy vehicle if the present rate of degradation is allowed to continue for a week or so.

An extensive inspection tour made by this reporter found the condition of the highway worsening to the extreme.

State PWD and BRO staff were found clearing landslides using earth movers along the highway at Tupul and a few places nearby.

Though Imphal-Khongsang section was found in a relatively better condition, Nungba-Jiribam section, barring around 20-30 kms on Jiribam side, was in highly pathetic condition.

Notwithstanding the efforts of the State Government to keep the highway in serviceable condition, the condition of the highway has been deteriorating day by day.

Even as nine bull-dozers and 17 excavators (JCB) have been pressed into service along the highway, the condition of the highway could be improved very little due to continuous rainfall and uninterrupted vehicular movement.

A slushy stretch on NH-53, which has impeded free movement of trucks

The heavy machinery stationed along the highway were used in emergency services like clearing landslides and pulling up loaded vehicles which got stuck in puddles or sloughy spots rather that utilising them for improvising the highway.

One JCB operator said that improvement work of the highway could make little progress due to rain and continuous movement of heavy loaded vehicles.

Observing that continuous movement of heavy vehicles has worsened condition of the already pathetic highway, the JCB operator expressed serious apprehension that the highway would become totally impassable if the present rate of dilapidation continues for some more days.

Three loaded vehicles were found turned sideways leaving them immovable due to the pathetic condition of the highway between Khongshang and Sibilong.

With many of the vehicles had their wheels stuck in indented, slippery spots, around 100 vehicles were found stranded along the highway.

Notably, these vehicles left Jiribam for Imphal two/three days back.

Though Imphal-Jiribam route is a day’s journey, it now takes three to four days to travel along the route.

Although the BRO has been largely responsible for development and maintenance of Imphal-Jiribam highway, the agency was found employing one/two JCB(s) and a few local labourers to clear landslides and filling up broken bitumen layer between Imphal and Sibilong.

The BRO was seen engaging in no major repairing or development work.

On the other hand, the drivers who have braving and negotiating all kinds of odds along the tortuous route are being victimised by unidentified miscreants in the form of pelting stones.

In one such incident, a passenger bus travelling from Imphal to Jiribam was pelted stones from hill-top by unidentified miscreants near Barak causing serious head injuries to a woman passenger yesterday.

Strangely, except for some CRPF personnel, no security ROPs could be seen along the highway.