Friday, December 03, 2021

The road to development

By EMN Updated: Aug 02, 2013 11:24 pm

Till just a few days ago, the local dailies have carried a newsitem on the proposed foothold road describing as “hope to prosperity.” So far, theoretically, the road will not only link Dimapur to Tizit (about 250 kms less 30 kms via Mariani-Amguri.) within Nagaland itself thereby avoiding the hassles of having to pass daily through Assam by Nagas.  Apart from security of the Nagas about 2,000 of whom with about one hundred vehicles ply on the present route, the proposed road will also save the State from draining its economy into Assam. According to official estimates, Rs 2.5 crore is the daily average that is being spent on imports from Assam particularly via the Mariani-Amguri sector and catering to Mokokchung, Tuensang, Mon, Longleng and Kiphire. Wokha District also has to depend on imports via Merapani. These exclude what enters via Dimapur for Kohima and Phek Districts and Naga-inhabited areas of neighbouring Manipur and that State itself. As such, the gross total for imports is much higher than estimated. No doubt, the proposed foothill road is rather concentrated on the convenience of the Districts within Nagaland itself. It is altogether fitting and proper that such a road has been proposed and measures are afoot to implement it into a reality. However, a foothill road within Nagaland itself is not going to diminish the consumer items required on a day to day basis. Imports will still be unavoidable because we are dependent on most imported consumer items. However, the advantage is that there will less harassment from a section of the Assam Police, some security forces and even local civilians. It may be recalled that the recent blockade was enforced by, of all people, the All Assam Tea Tribes Students Association (AATTSA) followed by a second blockade conducted by Ao Senden in retaliation. According to official sources, the construction of the proposed foothill road is expected to take off by October this year. Fine. The Roads and Bridges department has reportedly earmarked Rs 40 crore for the same. However, it must also be taken into account that till date most proposed new projects in Nagaland start off with a bang and eventually fizzle out. To cite just one recent instance, there had been a lot of brouhaha over the proposed four-lane from Chakhabama to Zunheboto. The company concerned started by cutting hillsides and now three years have passed but the original one-lane State highway is all but disfigured. One of the reasons was that the construction company concerned kept increasing the costs of overheads and after drawing whatever amount they could, the overall cost was conjured up to three times the original estimate. So now, the road with its dust and mud-bespattered shaven hillsides is there for all to see even from Kohima itself. Besides, there has also been a long-standing proposal for a railway line from Dimapur to Sechu (Zubza) via Chumukedima but it faced problems regarding financial compensation to the villagers concerned. In addition, the State Govt. in conjunction with the BRTF had decided that out of the 74 kms distance from Dimapur to Kohima, about 48 kms (since the road through the towns en route cannot be widened unless buildings are demolished at great cost) would be renovated into a four-lane. The moot point here is, the department concerned is hardly maintaining properly the one-and-a-half lane highway between the State’s commercial hub and the political capital plus other roads within the State. All projects for improvement should most certainly be welcome. Nevertheless, the potholes in our towns and highways must first be taken care of. For a good road is one of the roads to development.

By EMN Updated: Aug 02, 2013 11:24:59 pm