NH-29: Taking Accountability - Eastern Mirror
Friday, February 23, 2024

NH-29: Taking Accountability

By The Editorial Team Updated: Oct 04, 2023 12:05 am

There was a sense of ambiguity when the executive director of NHIDCL dubbed the July 4 tragedy that killed two persons and injured three, as a natural calamity even after witnessing the danger posed by protruding rocks and steep road cuttings at several locations along the Dimapur-Kohima stretch of National Highway-29 (NH-29). Instead of reassuring the people of their safety by taking up concrete measures, the implementing agency appeared to be keen on washing its hands of the matter. That was disquieting. The fears of the people have come true as no significant step has been taken so far to avoid another possible tragedy even after three months. The NHIDCL team led by its managing director Mahmood Ahmed once again inspected the national highway last week. He neither gave any assurance in public to address the issue nor shared his opinion after the survey. He refused to speak to the media on the matter for reasons best known to him. One can run and hide but can’t escape reality. The fact remains that the Dimapur-Jharnapani stretch continues to pose a visible threat to commuters. Huge boulders and sludge on the road speak volumes. The four-lane road has been reduced to two-lane, that too not without risk. The Kohima-Mao stretch is no different with blacktopping yet to begin as court orders fell on deaf ears. The NHIDCL officials have seen it with their own eyes. Silence can’t change this fact. It’s time the concerned contractor and implementing agency take responsibility of ensuring safety of the commuters and complete the project without compromising quality.

The people of the state have suffered enough for want of good roads. One of the reasons why the rural population is unable to get out of the clutches of poverty is poor connectivity. And one can only imagine the prospect of road infrastructure improvement in remote areas when a national highway, which is the lifeline of Nagaland and under the close watch of the state government as well as the civil society organisations, is dragged on for years and safety elements blatantly compromised. As per the status report of the NHIDCL, it has been awarded with 39 projects in Nagaland from 2016 to 2023, out of which only six have been completed as of May this year. This is not an impressive record by any measure. Being the nodal agency of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, it should up its ante, complete projects on time and maintain quality, lest it will end up affecting the image of the central government besides depriving basic facilities to the citizens. Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, should take the NHIDCL to task if any loophole is detected, starting with the NH-29. The government will fail the people if it fails to hold the nodal agency accountable for poor work quality, red-tapism, favouritism and corruption. It should ensure timely completion of all projects. Nagaland needs all-weather roads, not good-weather roads.

By The Editorial Team Updated: Oct 04, 2023 12:05:05 am
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