BRO outsources National Highway work to private agencies
NH-37 continues to be caught in a rut
Source: The Sangai Express
Imphal, September 18 2011:
Though officially the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has been solely entrusted for maintenance and development work of NH-37, development work of the Barak-Kaimai section of the same highway has been found outsourced to two private contractors.
In spite of the BRO's engagement in the highway development work, no change can be seen in the dilapidated condition of the highway.
This fact was glaringly visible when a team of media persons and members of Information Centre for Hill Areas of Manipur (ICHAM) made a spot assessment of the condition of NH-37 on September 14 and 15 .
BRO took up some development work of the highway in 1964.After this, BRO was entrusted the full responsibility of developing and maintaining the 220 Kms long highway.
At Kambiron where the condition of the highway was most pathetic, only 17 labourers were found working there.
Apart from Kambiron, no labourers could be seen working elsewhere along the highway.
Nevertheless, on their return journey after meeting the Commandant of 765th Bn BRO, small groups of labourers working on the highway at different points could be seen.
Though Imphal-Jiribam was declared a National Highway by the Union Government in 1980, no serious effort has been made till date to make the road a standard highway except for some repairing work in patches just to make it passable for vehicles.
Awangkhul-Nungba section of the highway was passable for vehicles, but no sign of maintenance could be seen along the section.
Under such situation, it takes more than 12 hours when travelling between Imphal and Jiribam.
Yet, BRO Commandant PN Yadav claimed that the development work of the highway can be completed by 2013 without Barak and Makru bridges.
"What is hampering BRO in the highway development work is not machinery or labour but stones", he said.
Conceding that the condition of the highway was quite deplorable, PN Yadav said that development of the highway would require 5/6 lakh cubic metre of stones.
The greatest challenge has been the unavailability of quality stones, he said.
When BRO collected local resources for development of the highway, local people demanded money, and this, the BRO could not comply with.
The BRO Commandant also sought Government's cooperation in addressing local disturbances and expediting land acquisition processes.
He also disclosed that development work of Kaimai-Barak section has been outsourced to private agencies, ABGI and Portum Constructions based in Assam.
The contract for the work was given to the two private agencies in October last year and July this year.
ICHAM president N Rajendro expressed serious doubt about the BRO's claim that development work of NH 37 could be completed by 2013 .
He also pointed out inadequacy in the number of machinery and labour.
While the Government has been claiming that adequate security escorts have been given to convoys of trucks travelling between Imphal and Jiribam, the team could observe difficulties faced by security personnel in safeguarding the trucks as only 15 security vehicles have been provided to protect around 1000 trucks and tankers.