Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Saturday here shot off a letter to union minister for road transport, highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari asking him to either take steps to undertake construction and repair of national highways in the state or hand over the responsibility to the state PWD for their maintenance.
Gogoi, in his letter to Gadkari said that though the state government had handed over stretches of National Highways No 37, 37A, 52 and 53 to the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) as per policy decision of the central ministry, the Corporation had neither taken up the construction activities nor undertaken maintenance work, leaving the state in the lurch.
“The condition of these stretches of the highways has become so bad that in some patches these have turned into virtual craters. In fact, the deplorable condition of these national highways has led to resentment amongst local people, with the demand for their maintenance growing and intensifying,” an official press release quoting Gogoi said.
Asking the union minister to immediately instruct NHIDCL to take urgent remedial measures, Gogoi said that if the NHIDCL was not able to carry out the work, then the Ministry should revert to its earlier policy and allow the state government to develop and maintain these stretches of highways.
The stretches of National Highways in Assam that the state public works department had handed over to NHIDCL are: NH-37 from Numaligarh to Dibrugarh and from Nagaon to Kaliabor, NH-37A from Kaliabor to Dolabari, NH-52 Dolabari to Holongi via Gohpur, and NH-53 Panchgram area and Silchar ISBT to NHIDCL for their construction and maintenance. “However, NHIDCL so far has not taken any interest either in construction or maintenance of the highways,” Gogoi in his letter said.
Gogoi also mentioned that though the Centre had sanctioned Rs 218 crore in November 2014 for maintenance of NH-44 – lifeline of the Barak Valley and vital link to Tripura and Mizoram, the work has not been allotted till today. “The mega block imposed by NF Railway for gauge conversion work and the resultant huge traffic load on NH-44, has rendered it next to impossible to maintain the highway under normal repair funds,” he pointed out.
The Assam chief minister also pointed out that a Rs 55-crore project for repair of the NH-52 at a vulnerable stretch near Bandardewa, though sanctioned in December 2014, had also hit a logjam as the work was yet to be allotted. Two more projects on NH-52 and NH-31 allotted in January 2015, on the other hand could not be started by the state PWD due to non-reporting of the engineers engaged by the union ministry despite several requests by the Assam government, he said.
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