By R. Lester Makang
UKHRUL, January 9: The long standing dispute over construction of an Inter Village Road (IVR) to connect five villages of Veikhang area in Ukhrul district took a shocking turn when a certain village in a bid to force its choice of road alignment upon the other opposing villages Tuesday tried to pull down a minor bridge which is currently connecting all the villages of the area to the district headquarters.
Around 9:30 am on January 7, a group of villagers from Khangkhui Khullen village led by the headman went to a spot where Thoubal river runs in between Choithar village and the rest of the Veikhang area villages, and began to destroy the minor bridge over the river.
Acting on the alarm raised by passers-by, villagers of Khangkhui Khunou rushed to the spot to stop them but by the time they reached the place, the bridge had been already damaged beyond repair. A heated argument had then ensued between the two groups of villagers before they finally dispersed.
Meanwhile, due to the destruction of the only connecting bridge at the present, the people of the area are facing a lot of hardships, especially while transporting the sick and goods from the village and vice versa.
Incidentally, the headman of Khangkhui Khunou identified as AS Samatai has been boycotted by his own villagers for being a part of the act of destruction and the villagers have unanimously chosen one KS Joseph to act as caretaker in his place with immediate effect.
Peeved with the latest development, villagers of Khangkhui Khunou/Phungdhar led by VA caretaker KS Joseph and secy AC Warson informed a team of Media persons who visited the spot today that destruction of the bridge was done with ulterior motive to nullify the previous road alignment and to coerce the people of the area into bowing down to the pressure for new road alignment which is not feasible for road construction at all.
According to AC Warson, the construction of link road connecting Choithar village, Khangkhui Khunou, Khangkhui Khullen, Nungshong Khunou and Nungshong Khullen village had already begun under the erstwhile Basic Minimum Service (BMS) way back in 1988 during the chief ministership of Shri Rishang Keishing.
He said that with the collective consent and approval of the people of Veikhang area because of its topographical viability, construction of the previous link road from NH-150 to Khangkhui Khunou via Choithar had been undertaken under sixth phase and another road from Nungshong Khunou junction to Khangkhui Khunou had been taken up under eight phase respectively. However, due to certain disturbances by vested interests the work had been halted abruptly, he added.
“It was undertaken under MBS and now the scheme has been converted into Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) but because of this the road construction cannot be shifted to the new alignment at any cost. It is still the same thing under different head”
Warson said that there have been IVR cutting and four suspension bridges already constructed along the previous road alignment, while adding that the same has received approval from the Central Inspection team apart from recommendations from Shri Rishang Keishing Hon’ble MP and various Tangkhul Frontal Organizations after spot verification.
Meanwhile, KS Joseph said that considering all the aspects of construction of the road which is for the benefit of the whole district, we would never allow the work to be realigned at the new site as pressurized by certain vested interests but we will see to it that the previous road alignment is put to proper use and for which we are ready to face any eventuality.