From our Special
SILCHAR, June 23: Juxtapose the statement of Paban Singh Ghatowar, Minister of Development of North East Region (DoNER), on his concern for the improvement of the connectivity of the region and setting up of high power committees formed by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh with the local media report of MLA and Parliamentary Secretary (PWD) Manilal Goala of Patharkandi who was forced to step down from his Bolero and made to walk through the potholed and crater-filled NH-44 recently. It is really amazing that even after 67 years of independence and after pumping in crores of rupees for the improvement of highways and roads, their conditions remain pathetic, raising questions about the utilization of allotted funds.
Angered and exasperated by the bad shape of NH-44 and their ordeal to commute through it everyday, the people of Nilambazar, 20 km from the border town of Karimganj, on the basis of prior information about the movement of the convoy of the Parliamentary Secretary waited for his arrival at the spot and to give him a real feel of trudging through the highway. He had to walk for an hour with hundreds of people who included day labourers, traders, rickshaw and cart pullers and the medley crowd under the leadership of BJP leader Shipra Goon following him. He was allowed to go on the assurance that he would take up the matter with the department concerned for immediate repair and improvement. In fact, the toiling masses of south Karimganj have been enraged by the network of roads and the highway in their areas being in extremely poor condition.
The firebrand BJP leader and all India secretary of Mahila Morcha, Shipra Goon, said despite repeated representations and demonstrations before the departments concerned as well as submission of memoranda to the Minister of the Area, Siddeque Ahmed, and Manilal Goala, MLA and Parliamentary secretary, nothing positive or tangible has been done to repair and improve the roads and highway. She said it is horrible to think of travelling through the highway.
Significantly, Siddeque Ahmed is the Border Area Development Minister, and she asked what has he done as a development minister for his area from where he has been elected to represent the people and address their various problems?’ The very presence of the Parliamentary secretary fuelled the suppressed anger among the people. He was proceeding to Karimganj from Patharkandi. Manilal Goala was cautioned before being let off to proceed with his convoy to ensure that he would keep his words to move the department for repair and improvement. His security guards had no option than to grin and grind helplessly.
The successive Central Governments have been talking of improving connectivity but without any impact on the ground. In order to boost up the economy, road and rail communication is of prime importance. For pacing up the economic development of Northeast, North Eastern Council (NEC) was created with special funds from the Centre. It was followed by the creation of DoNER Ministry (Development of North East Region) and each union ministry contributes 10 per cent of its annual allocated budget towards the fund of the DoNER. Further, the Centre came up with the concept of Look East Policy for the development of Northeast in respect of communication and connectivity. It is a positive development that the Prime Minister has formed high powered committees to address to the connectivity problems of the region in order to give a fillip to the economic growth as well as industrialization. Public opinion is that committees should be created to monitor and evaluate the proper utilization of massive funds as well and fix responsibility on the agency or agencies involved in the execution of the schemes and projects. NH-44 is always at the centre stage of news for its being repaired and improved and then turning into craters and potholes, raising questions about the quality and standard of works also.