From a Correspondent
TANGLA, October 14: The dilapidated condition of the historic Mekenzi road connecting Kalaigaon town to several nearby places, has not only piqued residents and locals, but also exposed the harsh reality of the BTC administration and State Government’s high pitched slogans of development.
Credited with being the oldest road of undivided Darrang district, which had been constructed by the British sometime in 1860, Mekenzi Road links Kalaigaon town with Paneri, Bengbari, Hatigarh and several northern tea gardens of Udalguri. Origilly, the road was the only link from Rangamati Ghat beside the Brahmaputra with the tea gardens situated in the northern area of present-day Udalguri district. A decade back, the road was divided into two parts. The portion from Rangamati Ghat to Kalaigaon was remed as KR Road (Kalaigaon-Rangamati) and the remaining part remained as Mekenzi Road (the road was surveyed and constructed by British engineer Mekenzi).
Though under the supervision of the State PWD, the condition of the road is so pathetic that people hardly walk on it, not to speak of vehicular traffic. The road has lost all its sheen.
The River Noa had breached the road at several places near Kalaigaon town and road connectivity to and from Kalaigaon town has become a difficult proposition for several thousand people living in 80 nearby villages, mely Bhehguri, Sagunbahi, Rupatol and Balipara.
Though the road distance is only 17 km from Kalaigaon town to Bengbari, the people’s voice to repair the same has not reached the government’s ear since the last 12 years.
In 2004, the PWD repaired the road with World Bank funding. Not surprisingly, the construction was of very poor standard. Moreover, flood waters damaged the road that same year. Since then, not a single piece of pebble has been laid over the road in the me of repair and maintence.
The road happens to be the lifeline of the people residing in 80 nearby villages. On their part, the villagers produce a large quantity of agricultural products like rice, cabbage, ginger and chilly. They also supply seasol vegetables throughout the year. Obviously, the poor road condition has been posing a big hurdle to the farmers in sending their produce to the nearby markets.
The people of greater Kalaigaon area have over the years been demanding the State Government for early repair of the road, though their collective pleas have not been taken seriously. Several organizations had earlier submitted memorandum to the Chief Minister and BTC chief for the road’s immediate improvement. People also staged dhar several times over the issue, but neither the State Government nor the BTC authority has taken any measures to address the problem.