IMPHAL, Dec 11: Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) Nitin Gadkari today laid the foundation stone for 17 highway projects covering 493 Kms at a function held at 1st MR parade ground.
Speaking at the gathering, Nitin Gadkari stated that highways and transport infrastructure of Manipur would be developed within the next three/four years under a package of Rs 22,000 crore.
“We are aware that the people of Manipur have been suffering a lot on account of sub-standard transport infrastructure. We are granting a package of Rs 22,000 crore by according special status to the State of Manipur for road development”, declared the Union Minister.
He stated that the 17 projects for which foundation was laid today would be implemented by the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) and the State PWD.
The 17 projects would cost around Rs 1152 crore (approximately).
The projects include Barak and Makru RCC bridges, construction of Ukhrul-Tolloi-Tadubi road (NH 102-A), Churachandpur-Singngat-Sinzawl-Tuivai road (NH 102-B), Tamenglong-Khongsang road (NH 137), Mao Gate-Imphal road (NH 39), Tipaimukh-Imphal-Ukhrul-Jessami road (NH 150) and Khumbong-Nambol-Mayang Imphal-Kakching Lamkhai road (NH 137-A).
The first four projects would be implemented by NHIDCL and the last three by the State PWD, Gadkari elaborated.
Out of Rs one lakh crore sanctioned for different projects which would be implemented by NHIDCL, Rs 40,000 crore has been set aside for the North East.
Acknowledging the importance of Barak and Makru bridges of Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar highway, Gadkari announced that Rs 100 crore has been set aside for maintenance of the two bridges in addition to the construction cost.
NHIDCL would take over Imphal-Jiribam highway from BRO, he informed adding that construction of the two bridges would be completed within one year and a half.
NH-39 (Imphal-Dimapur highway) is a key section of the Asian Highway. Construction of international highways had started with monetary assistance from Asian Development Bank (ADB) at the cost of Rs 25,000 after an agreement was signed among Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and India.
All highway construction works will be done in a transparent manner with due emphasis on the qualitative aspect without leaving any room for corruption, added the Minister.
People may send complaints through e-mail if they find the highway construction works unsatisfactory and the Ministry would take up corrective measures immediately on receiving any such complaints, Gadkari stated.
The NHIDCL Managing Director has been instructed to allot all the 17 projects to contractors based in the North East region. He stated that the rate of road construction was just 2 Kms per day when he first became MoRTH Minister but it has now risen to 28 Kms per day.
Talking about waterways, Nitin Gadkari stated that there were 7500 Kms of see freight, 12 major ports and 200 private and small ports. These ports earned a profit of Rs 6000 crore during the last financial year for the first time in the history of the country.
The Central Government has already set a target of raising the profit earned from these ports to Rs 7000 crore during the current financial year. These profits would be used for the welfare of the public, he assured.
The Ministry has also been planning to open waterways along 111 rivers of the country. Waterways would be developed along Brahmaputra and Barak rivers too.
Once these waterways are developed, one can go to Kolkata from Manipur on waterways through Bangladesh. Plans are also afoot to construct waterway terminals. A floating terminal would be constructed at Silchar. The Ministry has been paying special attention to development of waterways as they would be cheapest means of transport.
The function was also attended by Chief Minister O Ibobi, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, MP Prahlad Singh Patel, Social Welfare Minister AK Mirabai, MLA Kh Joykishan, former MP Th Chaoba, Chief Secretary O Nabakishore and NHIDCL Managing Director Anand Kumar.
Speaking at the gathering, Ibobi pointed out that all National Highways are properties of the country. But it is rather shameful that Imphal-Jiribam highway is covered with mud and slough up to knee level during rainy season even though it has been 69 years since India achieved independence.
“What I expressed should not be construed as blaming the Union Minister or the incumbent Central Government or the previous Central Governments. But I’m just stating the plain facts”, Ibobi continued.
Of the total length of the country’s National Highways, 250 Kms are in Manipur but the State Government has been facing lots of difficulties in maintaining the National Highways as funds sanctioned for the same purpose are too little.
Against Rs three crore sanctioned by the Central Government for maintenance of National Highways this financial year, the State Government invested around Rs 300 crore, Ibobi stated.
He also expressed keen desire for the Central Government to raise the highway maintenance fund to at least Rs 25 crore.
The State Government invested Rs 200 crore for expansion of airport road and Rs 40 crore for development of Imphal-Lilong section of NH 39.
But the State Government has no clear idea who has been constructing Manipur University-Lilong section of the highway and in the meantime four persons have been killed in road accidents on the same road stretch, he added.
The State has made rapid progress in health and power sectors. Manipur has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the country and the State’s power reform measures have been appreciated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Stating that law and order is a State subject, Ibobi sought the Government of India’s attention when UNC, a mouthpiece of NSCN-IM, which is under cease fire agreement with New Delhi, imposes blockades on National Highways leading to Manipur.
The issue of economic blockade was raised with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh but the Union Minister’s response was not satisfactory enough. Moreover, creation of districts is a prerogative of respective State Governments, Ibobi stated while appealing to all quarters not to dictate the State Government on such matters.
Apart from NSCN-IM and UNC, there are many other insurgent groups and their own mouthpieces in Manipur. The UNC has been using the National Highways as their tool.
He then appealed to the two Union Ministers seated there (Nitin Gadkari and Prakash Javadekar), Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene into the issue of protracted economic blockade.
Source: The Sangai Express