TODAY -

BRO and NH-37: Agents of isolation?
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: September 04 2015 -



Time and again, transporters particularly the Manipur Truck Owners Welfare Association (MTOWA) has been firing repeated salvo against the Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

Indeed, it has been decades since BRO has been constructing and maintaining Imphal-Jiribam highway or the so called NH-37.

In spite of the huge amounts of money and invaluable time invested in terms of decades, BRO is still unable to make the highway an all-weather road.

Over the years, people of Manipur, particularly transporters have lost whatever faith they had in BRO. For too long, BRO has been treating the highway as their own fiefdom.

It has been more than a week since the highway became inaccessible after Barak Bridge broke down. It has been several decades BRO is kept in charge of National Highways in Manipur.

During these long decades, BRO has deservedly earned such epithets like inefficacy, incapability, indifference and what not.

For BRO even three decades are not enough to construct a standard highway.

Having stretched its patience to the limits, the State Government made a strong move a couple of years back to relieve the BRO off its responsibility of looking after national highways in Manipur.

Even though the Ministry of Defence supported the State Governmentís move, the Ministry of Home Affairs, for reasons best known to them, was adamant on keeping the national highways under BRO.

Not long after the NDA Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power at New Delhi, the National Highways Connectivity Company Limited was set up exclusively for the North East region.

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkariís assurance that development works of Imphal-Jiribam highway and Imphal-Dimapur highway would be taken up on war footing from October last year sounded like a manna from heaven and we hoped it would not turn into some impressive but empty promises.

Now we are almost one year down Nitin Gadkariís assurance and nothing has changed on ground, and the inglorious BRO is still in charge of Imphal-Jiribam highway.

The Ministry of Home Affairs may have their own reasons for backing BRO but at the same time Government of India must acknowledge that connectivity is the catch word in this cyber age whether it is for trade and commerce, cultural exchange, diplomatic engagement or simply people to people contact.

But what we see today on the so called Imphal-Jiribam highway is a cart-track of 18th century.

People from other parts of the country and beyond would be wonderstruck on hearing that it takes almost 16 to 18 hours to travel a little over 200 Kms in a motor vehicle from Imphal to Jiribam or the other way round in this cyber age.

Indeed it is a nightmare to travel along this highway, nay route and for drivers it is always a tortuous journey.

Strangely, successive Governments at New Delhi find it unnecessary to improve connectivity with the landlocked North East in general and the remotest State of Manipur in particular.

In the so called democratic political set up of India, Manipur finds no place except as a buffer zone or a neo-colony.

The assumption that Manipur constitutes a buffer state or more precisely a neo-colony of India is hardened by New Delhiís insidious policy of keeping Manipur remote as far as possible, observed one popular columnist.

If this is the case, we cannot blame the BRO for they are just a scapegoat of a much larger politics.

It is a tragedy that an inter-State highway which must enhance people to people contact and facilitate trade and commerce is steadily becoming an agent of alienation and isolation.



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