With or without Delhi, NH-53 tops SPF agenda
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, June 21, 2010: Spelling out the agenda of the State Government in clear cut terms, Chief Minister O Ibobi today asserted that no efforts would be spared to upgrade NH-53 to the standard expected of a National Highway.

Speaking to some media persons at his office chamber today, the Chief Minister said that even if Delhi refuses to dole out any financial assistance towards upgrading and improving NH-53, the State Government would still go ahead with the task at hand.

However it will take some time for the Centre to formally hand over the responsibilities of looking after NH-53 from the BRO, said the Chief Minister.

The delay will however not hamper the necessary work to be executed along NH-53, as it is on top of the agenda of the SPF Government, said Ibobi.

Significantly, the State Cabinet during a meeting held some time back had decided to take over NH-53 from the BRO, obviously not satisfied with its performance.

The Chief Minister repeated his disappointment with the performance of the BRO before the media persons today too.

Works Minister K Ranjit who was also present, chipped in and cited the example of the Maram to Mao stretch on NH-39 which has been under the BRO for the last 36 years, which is in a pitiable state.

Touching on the technical errors in maintaining NH-39, Ranjit said that the hill sides were found cut in a straight line, making it steep, with no nullahs or drainage system at the foothills.

Such an approach, where the hills have been cut straight from top to bottom to construct the road, makes it vulnerable to landslides, especially during heavy rains.

The PWD henceforth will have to redo the task of cutting the hill sides making sure that it slopes down gradiently, so that the steepness of the cut areas is not acute.

To replace the rotting and dilapidated wooden planks (runners) on the bridges along this route, the required woods have been sent to the sites concerned, through the PWD.

The Works Minister further said that they understand the reason why drivers and transporters have decided not to ever ply along NH-39 from now, but added this route can be used as and when required.

Informing that it is difficult now to find drivers of oil tankers to transport fuel through NH-39, Ranjit said that out of the 340 tankers under contract with the IOC, only 100 can be traced now.

Answering a query on the imposition of ‘taxes’ by the NSCN (IM) along NH-39 right in front of Nagaland police personnel as well as money being extorted by the Nagaland police from vehicles of the State, have been repeatedly put forward before the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister, said the Chief Minister.

It is unfortunate that till date the Centre has not taken up any positive steps with regard to the highway extortions, added Ibobi.

According to a source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the armed outfits, which have signed the cease fire pact with the Centre, such as the NSCN (IM) may be imposing what they call 'taxes', as they are not given monthly stipend or financial aid like the ones extended to Kuki groups, which have signed the Suspension of Operations agreement.

This may be the reason why the Centre is turning a blind eye to what is happening on NH-39.