IMPHAL, April 11: Union Minister of Defence Pallam Raju cancelled his Jiribam visit and a road trip along the Jiribam-Imphal Highway stretch of National Highway No. 37, yet he assured the public that work on the stretch would be completed by December 2013.
Jiribam and the Jiribam-Imphal stretch of national highway 37 were on the itinerary of the Union Minister, but it was cancelled at the last minute. He reviewed the progress of Indo-Myanmar border fencing work and other road development activities undertaken by the Border Roads Organization (BRO) at Moreh in Chandel district yesterday.
The insurgency-hit state shares over a 350 km-long porous border with Myanmar and a 10-km-long fence is being constructed at Moreh to curb smuggling of weapons and drugs.
Defence Minister of State told mediapersons, he had come to the north-east to inspect the works undertaken by the Border Roads Organization (BRO).
He however expressed regret that he has not been able to visit Jiribam and the Imphal-Jiribam Road, while saying that he will certainly try to visit the area either on May 10 or 12 this year.
The Imphal-Jiribam stretch of the highway gained importance in recent times due to frequent road blockades on the Imphal-Dimapur road on political demands. The location of Manipur’s railhead at Jiribam has added more importance to the highway.
The minister was accompanied by director general of BRO Lt Gen Ravi Shankar and other senior officials of the organization. Pallam had landed at Moreh in a helicopter in the afternoon yesterday.
Pallam, along with the officials, also visited Gate No. 1 of the international border, which is also known as Indo-Myanmar Border Bridge, as well as Gate No. 4, a source said. He added that the minister expressed satisfaction over the work done by the BRO.
After reaching Imphal from Moreh on Tuesday evening, Pallam met governor Gurbachan Jagat and chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh. Before arriving in Manipur, the minister visited Kohima and Tezu ( Arunachal Pradesh).
Meanwhile, N.Rajendro President of Information Centre for Hill Areas, Manipur (ICHAM) yesterday submitted a memorandum to Pallam Raju, MOS Defence through I Hemochandra, MLA.
The ICHAM memorandum had drawn the MOS defence’s attention on the miserable condition of the Jiribam highway.
The memorandum had stated, ‘As you may already be aware, the stretch between Imphal and Nungba, then upto Awangkhul and the stretch between Jiribam and Makru bridge are manageably okay as of the present, though there is still much more to be done. Unfortunately, the rest of the highway is in very poor shape. Particularly the stretch between Khongsang and Kaimai via Kambiron is the worst. We found that the particular was completely a mud road, with chest-deep pits. Vehicles with four-wheel drive engines had to be driven in first gear in full throttle to get out of the mud pits.’
ICHAM said, its members found only 17 labourers laying stones on a few metre patch of the mud road near Kambiron village.
ICHAM monitors the progress of the upgradation work of the NH 37 every month by organizing trip on this highway, and nearly 60% of the upgradation work on the 221 km-highway is deemed to have been completed so far.