The Centre seems to be in a tearing hurry to get toll gates set up on tiol highways in Assam. The logic put forth by the Ministry of Surface Transport is that opening of toll gates will help garner funds for ‘regular and effective maintence’ of highways. Once toll gates start charging fees from users, people will get the right to lodge complaints or file cases before appropriate authorities if highways are not regularly maintained and repaired, so goes the argument reportedly. The tiol Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is already learnt to have decided on 11 toll gates to be set up on the 649 km stretch of East West Corridor from Srirampur on Assam-Bengal border to Silchar in Barak Valley via gaon. There will be a toll gate after every 60-70 kms on this highway, which Dispur must set up. For once though, the State government has taken a principled stand that the entire stretch of East West Corridor should be completed before toll gates are opened. As of now, construction works remain suspended on stretches of this corridor at Patacharkuchi in Barpeta and Dima Hasao districts. The condition of tiol highways passing through Assam remains a sore issue both with the public and even the State government. But the condition of tiol highway 54(E) that cuts through Barail range in Dima Hasao district to link Silchar with East-West Corridor – is absolutely horrendous. Even heavy duty trucks struggle to negotiate this particular highway. And now, 18 years after the corridor was announced, NHAI has decided to realign a crucial 31-km stretch between Jatinga and Harangajao stretch, so the highway will take much longer to be put to good use. The NHAI is learnt to have cancelled its contract with a firm for delay in executing the Srirampur-Gossaigaon section of this corridor. As for the tiol Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), it has at last begun to crack the whip on errant firms that have failed to maintain the stretches on tiol highways 52 and 37 in Assam being expanded into four-laners. It has issued new tenders for repair and maintence works, with the condition that the errant firms will foot the bill. Dispur needs to maintain constant pressure on New Delhi over poor tiol highway conditions so that these central agencies get their act together and stop taking commuters for a ride, literally.
NH toll gates