National Highways accorded highest priority: Ratan

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IMPHAL, July 5: More than Rs 1017 crores in respect of seven different government departments including the Public Works Department (PWD) were passed in the Manipur legislative assembly today.

The demands include Rs 5,69,71,000 for Transport; Rs 568,95,62,000 for Public Works Department; Rs 199,50,26,000 for Agriculture, Rs 19,93,99,000 for Administration of Justice; Rs 30,14,74,000 for Fisheries; Rs 47,95,10,000 for Soil Conservation and Rs 1,45,17,13,000 for Social Welfare Department.

During the discussion NCP MLA Laishom Ibomcha said, the 11 low-floor buses plying in the Imphal City is charging Rs 10 as fare from a passenger while private passenger vehicles are taking only 60 paise per 1 km so the fare taken by these low-floor buses is too high and should be decreased.

He also urged for revival of MSRTC that had been abolished by government as this is a public utility service, adding that apart from Imphal, other areas like Iroisemba, Kongba and Khagempalli got the service of MSRTC.

Taking part in the discussion Trinamool MLA Dr Ibohalbi said, all the areas covered by the low-floor buses are not known by the people. Therefore, there is less number of passengers for these buses.

Dr Ibohalbi asserted that the valley-hill integrity will be succeeded only when there is good road. He asked about the present condition of the two National Highways which are lifeline of the state.

Responding to the issues raised by the opposition MLAs Transport minister Dr Ratankumar said, the total number of JNNURM buses in the state is 14 of which two are now under repair as they had been left unused for a long time.

Three buses are servicing in three routes and that only Rs 5 was charged from a passenger when one of the buses was made available to the people in Paona bazar and Thangal bazaar on trial basis, the minister informed.

However, the bus fare was increased at Rs 10 as there was shortage of Rs 5 denomination, Dr Ratankumar said while informing that 10 more low-floor buses will be procured and the exact total number of such buses to be obtained by the state is 25.

Saying that these buses are now successfully giving service to the people, the Transport minister clarified that the government is considering handing over of the buses to private firms on hire. He also clarified that the MSRTC was abolished by a decision of the state government in the year 2003 and that on the question of revival of MSRTC needs another cabinet decision.

Dr Ratankumar who is also holding the portfolio of Works also said, stringent steps are being taken up for development of National Highways in the state on the highest priority while informing that Jiribam, Mao and Moreh sections of the two National Highways had been inspected recently.

He said, efforts are on to give promotion to the engineers in the interest of the state.

There are many engineers currently holding the posts of Executive Engineers who are waiting to be promoted to Superintendent Engineers and Chief Engineers respectively, he added.

The procedure for promoting the engineers will be discussed with senior advocates after the ongoing assembly session, Dr Ratankumar said, adding that the PWD will be taking up road development works soon.

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