Tale of two NHs : NH-39 on recovery path, NH-53 still in coma
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, August 01 2010: Although round the clock repairing work of the sunken highway near Maram village has partially restored vehicular movement along National Highway-39, the situation is said to be grim on the Imphal-Jiribam section of NH53 as hundreds of vehicles are stranded at various points of the highway.

Repairing work, including cutting of hill-slopes is being taken up on a war footing to resume movement of loaded trucks through the sunken zone on NH-39 while there is hardly any sign of improvement on the NH-53 side.

Information till late in the evening, said that hundreds of loaded as well as empty trucks are stuck all along the Imphal-Jiribam route with inclement weather and slushy condition of the road making it difficult for heavy vehicles to pass through.

A truck slowly inches its way on the repaired portion of NH-39 (R) efforts on at NH-53 to clear the way for traffic

With the condition of the road the worst in between Kaimai to Makru and from makru to Nungba, heavy machines requisitioned for repairing/development of the Highway are being engaged in pulling out and tow away vehicles stuck in the waist deep slush on the highway.

pressure of moving vehicles has created deep depression of the road to about 3-4 feet at various points from Kaimai to Barak while from Barak to Nungba black-topped surface has literally disappeared apparently due to inclement weather and increased volume of traffic ever since transporters decided to stay away from NH-39 .

Drivers are finding it difficult to negotiate through the route as the vehicles turn topsy-turvy because of the huge tyre craters created by by the heavily loaded trucks.

On the other hand, even as some vehicles managed to cross the sunken zone close to Maram village along NH-39, residents of Aibi Colony have left for safer places as wide cracks have developed in their residential areas.

Feeling insecure many families of Aibi Colony were found taking refuge at relatives' place.

They have appealed to the State Government to initiate all possible measures to prevent disastrous consequences.

Aibi Colony is located just above Maram Bazar.

While some of the vehicles stranded near the sunken zone of about 80 feet managed to cross over after partial repairing of the affected spot, Works Minister K Ranjit told newspersons during his inspection visit today that restoration of normal vehicular movement would be possible only after 3-4 days.

In the presence of top department (PWD) officials, Ranjit also allayed apprehension by transport operators to cross the sunken zone asserting that the ongoing repairing works have made the spot safe for vehicular traffic.

Regional Officer (Guwahati) of Ministry of Highway and Surface Transport SC Mandal also accompanied the Minister.

Reminding that as soon as news of the sinking of the Highway section was received on July 28, top PWD officials including the Chief Engineer were despatched to assess the damage the next morning after which one bulldozer and a JCB are being used to construct a new road by cutting the hillslope, the Minister informed that even loaded trucks could pass through the section since yesterday night.

While conceding that official procedures for consent of Ministry of Highway and Surface Transport in the development of National Highways takes time, Ranjit nevertheless confided that as people of Manipur depends on the two National Highways the SPF Government accords top priority in the maintenance of the lifelines.

He also disclosed that 5 to 10 percent are being deducted from the budgetary allocations of major departments of the State Government for development and maintenance of highways with special focus on NH-53, as had been instructed by the Chief Minister.

Blaming inefficiency on the part of BRO for the present mess at various points along NH-53, the Works Minister opined that inspite of the BRO entrusted with the task of NH-53 maintenance for decades it seems work quality was maintained only at populated section of the Imphal-Jiribam route while at uninhabited areas it is superficial.

Informing that the State Government is committed to transform the NH-53 to a serviceable level by March-April next year even though black-topping of the entire route cannot be achieved within the specified period, Ranjit also stated that out of five weak bridges along the Highway three have been repaired by the State.

He also said that efforts of Transporters and Drivers' Council as well as NGOs in carrying boulder-loads for repairing of damaged portion of NH-53 the desired result is yet to be achieved due to inclement weather and slushy condition at various places.

Conveying that reduction in volume of vehicular movement along the Imphal-Jiribam section would be helpful in smooth repairing of the damaged portions to some extent, the Minister appealed to vehicle owners and transporters to ply along NH-39 .

apart from assessing the damage at Maram, the Minister also inspected work progress of the ADC office building at Kangpokpi and Inter State bus Terminus near Khuman Lampak.

Upon witnessing minimal labour force engaged in the construction of the Bus Terminus, Ranjit strongly instructed representatives of the Hyderabad-based work agency to ensure workforce of 300-400 personnel in order to complete the construction within the targeted deadline of December next.