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Roads & highways of Barak back to square one

SILCHAR, Sept 12: One of the issues on which BJP scored over Congress during the last assembly elections of 2016 was the worsening condition of roads and highways across Barak valley. In every public meeting addressed by the central, state or local leaders of the party, while bashing the then Congress regime under Tarun Gogoi, never missed blaming it on the previous government. The media, both print and electronic, took the opportunity to harangue the ruling dispensation for its failure to maintain the roadways.
 Even Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy, one might recollect, narrated his awful experiences of travelling over National Highway 6 from Churaibari point, the entry to Tripura, to Badarpur and wondered why it was not being repaired and improved. He was invited by a social organization to present his point of view on how to bring about the desired result of making the highway an all-weather pathway. Being a civil engineer himself in his professional life, he made a Powerpoint presentation and offered his views and also alternatives for upkeep of the vital NH 6 linking Barak valley with Guwahati and other key destinations of the Northeast.
 The much debated and discussed NH 6 has again turned into a messy affair with soil displaced, dotted with muddy patches and huge craters. The rains over the last few days have added to the deteriorating conditions of roads and highways in the valley. During his last visit with Governor Banwarilal Purohit in the early part of this month, Minister of PWD, Excise and Fisheries Parimal Suklabaidya, when confronted by mediapersons on the pathetic state of roads & highways here, squarely blamed Nature and made rains the villain for ‘spoiling the government’s plan to improve road connectivity’.
 Across the State, the PWD Minister has been repeating this refrain whenever faced with questions about crumbling road infrastructure. It is not only National Highways 6, 37 and 54 as well as major roads connecting the district headquarters of Cachar, Karimganj, Hailakandi and Haflong, but also the inter-valley and hinterland road connectivity which have become unusable. The Sentinel has focused on some of the inter-valley roads spread across rural belts, and the extreme pain and suffering that commuters have to undergo in silence with no authority to listen to them.
 Dhruvajyoti Mazumder, a businessman of Silchar town, expressing anguish at road conditions here, said: “People want improvement in roads for faster and easier movement. The flyover for this town as dreamt of by the PWD Minister is not the priority.” This is the view of people in general. The photograph accompanying this report shows how loaded trucks have been getting bogged down in slush and mud on NH 54 with other vehicles stranded for hours. Recovery vans have to be called in subsequently to pull out the stranded trucks.
 According to Sreepada Das, an inhabitant of Srikona 7 kms from here, “It has become a common phenomenon when goods-laden vehicles moving on this highway get stuck up and it takes hours to clear the jam.”
Minister Parimal Suklabaidya is having a trying time to take measures to bring roads and highways back in shape. The rainy season is almost over and the Minister must now get to work, activating the PWD for repair works on war footing. In the meantime, as highlighted earlier, people living along the 33 kms long, dilapidated Silchar-Kalain road are girding up loins for a long-drawn agitation. The question is, how long will the PWD Minister from this valley continue to blame Nature?