November 13 accident, at which a cement loaded truck felt at the River near Nungdolan in Tamenglong district after a Bailey Bridge collapsed, has once more draw the attention to the public to the condition of the National Highways in the state.
In the last couple of decades, no words of appreciation is heard from any sections of people to any authority responsible for maintenance of the Highways- either it may be the Imphal-Jiribam road stretch or the Imphal-Mao stretch or the Imphal-Moreh stretch. Leaving aside the ‘once upon time’ frequent bandh blockade and looting, deteriorated road conditions of High ways in the state was what the public outcry many times. After Central government agency BRO took over the charge of maintaining and construction of the Imphal Jiribam Road stretch people had some expectation but was soon shattered with the government organisation under the Defense Ministry could not proved its credential by failing to maintain the 222 kilometers road in over one decade.
The road stretch had also been politicized by vested interested political parties to use as tool for their election. But one thing that was not heard spelled out is that - had some underground outfit have some matual understanding with the BRO authority not to make this road convinient for motor users. May be a rumours but there is logical explanation in believing so.
Perhaps this is one reason that the Union Ministry of Road and Surface Transport had decided to take over by it.
April 1, 2017 - maintenance work as well as newly proposed upgradation work for National Highway 37, Imphal-Jiribam stretch has been handed over to the National Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NIDCL). According to Works Minister Th. Bishwajit, a sum of Rs. 400 crores has been sanction for the development of this road stretch.
Its now seven months and some development has been seen taken up, but the actual work that has to be carrried out is still yet to be seen. Bridges build on this section of highways are outdated and limited for only 24 tons at one time. No work is seen taken up up for upgradation of the portion into four lane.
Upgrading this portion of road to at least four lane is important because India government has promised and is preparing to make the Trans Asia Highway, perhaps during the tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
It’s already known that the projected Trans Asian Highway from Porbandar in Gujarat to Shilchar in Assam have already reached upto its mark with 4 lane as the smallest portion. When dream about 4 lane in Imphal-Jiribam road stretch is still very very far. On the other hand neibouring state Assam had already completed constructing road infrastructure to hold the mark. Even neigbouring state Nagaland has also started converting the Kohima Dimapur road stretch to a four lane.
The country’s keen interest to materialize the Act East Policy will come across all obstacles using any means which means that any delay to the part of the state government will only means India government skipping this portion of the Indian region.
The expectation of the Manipuri people over the expected changes towards development of the region with the materialization of the Act East Policy will remain as a dream if the infrastructures are not completed and if the state government is not prepared to face the outcome.
Now there is no shortage of money for upgradation or maintenance of the National Highways. What is required now is the commitment and integrity of the state government.
Let’s hope a change Manipur in the coming days.