By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, July 6: Chief Minister's Tarun Gogoi's criticism of Union minister Nitin Gadkari's announcement on new highway projects in the State and region has not gone down well among many. Gogoi's refusal to engage with the BJP-led government at the Centre may be contrasted with the politically astute manner West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar are dealing with New Delhi to wrest concessions for their states, despite both leaders being known Modi detractors.
Tamil du Chief Minister Jayalalitha and Odisha Chief Minister veen Patik too have missed no opportunity to bargain shrewdly with the rendra Modi government in the interests of their states. Aruchal Pradesh Chief Minister bam Tuki too has been statesmanlike in his dealings with the Centre. All the three leaders belong to parties that are political opponents of the BJP.
While Gogoi's new-found penchant for rebuking every initiative taken by the Modi government at the Centre has had little takers, questions are being raised about the State government's performance in the last 14 years he has been at the helm.
The Chief Minister, who had not missed an opportunity to trumpet even an ungenerous initiative by the then UPA government, has been devaluing ever announcement by the Centre ever since the BJP came to power.
A few days back, Gogoi commented about the announcement of Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari regarding 10,000 km of highway construction involving a whopping Rs 1 lakh crore for the Northeast region, that "though it sounds good would never see the light of day as his ministry has failed to keep the existing tiol highways in good shape despite repeated pleas by the State Government".
Gogoi's pessimistic reaction to the Centre's announcement immediately reminds one of the present state of a number of roads in the State and at the same time has raised the obvious question as to what the State government has done in all these fourteen years.
From the Rajgarh Link Road and the Sachal junction road in the capital city to some vital communication lines like the Sivasagar-Dibrugarh stretch of NH 37, Gogamukh-Dhakuakha road, Jorhat-Mariani road in the Chief Minister's home district - all are in utter bad shape, not to speak of rural roads across the State.
"The tiol highways are deteriorating every day thus impeding the smooth flow of traffic," Gogoi had himself admitted recently.
First, observers say it is not fair to link the new highway proposals with the repair of state roads, which is routine work.
Second, there have been umpteen complaints regarding the works and efficiency of the State Public Works department.
The department requires around Rs 140 crore annually to repair State roads. However, the department is given only around Rs 30/40 crore every year.
It may be mentioned that till last year, the PWD used to receive funds from the Centre directly for repair of state roads. What the department did with those funds is for everyone to see.
Recently, the Centre has floated a new idea to form a corporation - tiol Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) - for creation and magement of infrastructure of the highest standard in the country with focus on the Northeast and Border areas. With a branch office in Guwahati and Agartala, the corporation will for now on look after construction and maintence of the highways.