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EDITORIAL: Imphal-Jiri Road

With the ImphalJiribam stretch of the National Highway 53 being not just an important land route that connects Manipur with the rest of the world, but also a road whose developmental works has always stirred the sentiments of the people, the recommendation of the State Cabinet to hand over the task of maintaining the stretch of the National Highway 53 from Barak to Imphal, which was earlier under the responsibility of BRO, back to the State Public Works Department may have gone down well with the people.

The recommendation of the State Cabinet is believed to have come about with authorities of BRO showing signs of reluctance in shouldering the responsibility. Now that the task of maintaining the road is to be taken over by the State Public Works Department, which presumably understands the importance and significance of the this road in the life of the people, one could only hope for the better. What is even more interesting in this take-over is the fact that the Public Works Department had earlier deployed a large number of contractors and machineries with a commitment to develop the road only to be told at the eleventh hour that the BRO had been entrusted with the task.

It had even led to an almost never ending spat of accusations and counter accusations from both sides. To the finger of accusation of the State Government on the alleged lackadaisical conduct of BRO in executing the work, BRO had countered by saying that it is the State Government that have failed to ensure necessary measures conducive for starting the work. Inspite of all that have happened, now that the task is to be taken over by the Public Works Department again, it can regarded as a victory for the State Government. It is this victory that has underscored the significance of this road all the more.

As stated earlier, the endorsement of the State Cabinet to hand over the task of maintaining the road back to the State Public Works Department may have been prompted following reluctance of the BRO to shoulder the responsibility any more, which has come about at an time when the bruised sentiment of the people over the earlier decision of the Centre to entrust the task to BRO only after the State Government had taken up the initiatives of developing the road has not yet been healed.

With many people in Manipur always in favor of developing the Imphal-Jiribam road as the second life line of the State befitting its name, we can only hope that the State Government and its Public Works Department would leave nothing to chances from ensuring development of the road to the satisfaction of the people. This could be one of the reasons why Works Minister K Ranjit who had gone for a tour to Tamenglong district has reached Jiribam to take stock of the existing condition of the road. In fact, Minister Ranjit has been very vocal, time and again, against the manner of BRO in maintaining the road. So, here again, we could only hope that the Works Minister would leave no stone unturned in ensuring proper development of the road. But what is of serious concern at this point is that with the onset of rainy season, commencement of work may have to wait but the Government would need to show its mettle keeping in mind the past sparring of the BRO.

Pin-pointing of the BRO on the negative impact of rampant quarrying activities on the condition of the road, absence of any mechanism of the  Government to stop such harmful activities, protracted delay over resolution of land compensation issue, security concerns and others that stood on the path of developing National Highway 53 should not be simply brushed aside. With the State Public Works Department all set to take over the task from BRO, it would be needless to say that the Government have to shoulder the responsibility of removing all these impediments to get the ball rolling and not wait for the public to lose their temper.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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