Revival of Silchar-Haflong-Guwahati road demanded

SILCHAR, Sept 6: The intermittent blockade of NH 39 by various student organizations led by Naga Students’ Federation on their demands, ultimately stirred the Centre to direct the BRTF to open the Silchar-Imphal NH 53, lying discarded and dilapidated since 1997, as an alternative route to the Manipur capital.
The NH 53 was virtually under the siege of insurgents and after necessary improvement of highway and bridges, the Union Home Ministry had brought it under massive security cover. Passenger and commercial vehicles have already started moving through this highway to Imphal.
The situation on Badarpur-Jowai Highway 44 that links Barak Valley with Guwahati is quite different. Though there has been no major land slide at the most unstable Sonapur zone, 100 km from here, in Meghalaya Hills, the highway on long stretches has turned into veritable deathtraps with potholes and craters, making it difficult for the vehicles to move. As a result, the passengers are facing a harrowing time. A journalist by profession, Tomojyoti Bhattacharjee, who was coming from Guwahati recently with his family members, reached Silchar after 27 hours of gruelling journey. It took such a long time to cover just 350 km of distance. With incessant rainfall, it has become even more horrifying.
The BRTF has no doubt constructed an overground tunnel at Sonapur, which has withstood the onslaught of landslips, and the movement of vehicles during this monsoon has not been affected. But questions have been raised by the public on the maintenance of the highways by BRTF, particularly NH 44, the lifeline of supply for Barak Valley, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur that also links NH 53 and NH 55.
Rail-connectivity of this region with Brahmaputra Valley becomes uncertain with the onset of monsoon. Besides, journey to Guwahati is a long detour of 24 hours with transshipment at Lumding, causing much inconvenience to passengers. The fate of BG and East-West corridor still hangs in balance.
This has brought into focus the issue of reviving the century old Silchar-Haflong-Lanka-Nagaon-Guwahati road. The worst condition of this road exposes the hollowness of the Central Government’s commitment to improve the surface connectivity of Northeast. In fact, in the event of natural calamities like landslides and floods as well as human blockades, the vehicular traffic is diverted through the Haflong link, though it takes a long detour. Neither the NEC nor the NC Hills PWD (R) has taken any initiative to make the road traffic-worthy.
Disruption on NH 44 makes access to Guwahati via Haflong the most feasible alternative. It also connects Dimapur through Mahur-Lumding-Diphu road. FCI godowns and wholesale stockists with depleting stocks are hard hit to maintain PDS. The highway issue did rock the State Assembly often and sought the intervention of the State Government to move the Centre to initiate works. It is a sad commentary on the multi-crore packages of the Prime Minister, DoNER’s financial bonanza and the look-east policy. (Source - Sentinel Assam)

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