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Centre Yet To Hand Over NH-53 Task To PWD, Delhi Forgoes Idea Of Developing NH-53 Along BOT Model

IMPHAL, May 19: The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has reportedly withdrawn its earlier proposal of developing National Highway 53 passing through Manipur under the BOT model along with inclusion of the work in Phase-IV of National Highway Development Project (NHDP).

According to an official source, the Ministry has communicated to the Public Works Department of the State Government that the development of National Highway-53 would not be carried out under the Billing Operative Transport (BOT) model along with inclusion under Phase-IV of National Highway Development Project (NHDP) as proposed earlier.

The move has come about after the State Government explained to the Ministry that the proposal of BOT model for development of National Highway 53, which is the second lifeline of the people of Manipur, would not be viable.

Contrary to speculations among the general public, the source further disclosed that the Ministry has yet not handed over the task of developing the stretch of National Highway 53 from Barak to Imphal to the Public Works Department of the State Government.

The State Cabinet may have decided to take over the task from the BRO and exert pressure on the Centre in this regard in due consideration of the need to develop National Highway 53 in the wake of prolonged economic blockade imposed along National Highway-39 by some Naga bodies in protest against the State Government’s decision to ban the entry of NSCN (IM) general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah and the subsequent resolution of the transporters not to ply along National Highway-39.

However, the Government of India and its Ministry of Road Transport and Highways have not yet conceded to the demand.

On its part, the Government of India had assured the Government of Manipur that National Highway 53 would be developed fully by 2013 and the BRO would continue to be in charge of the task.

Even though the Government of India has entrusted the task to the BRO, a meeting of the SPF Cabinet held on May 4 decided to exert pressure on the Government of India to hand over the task of developing the National Highway to the State PWD.

The source contended that handing over the task of developing the National Highway 53 to the State PWD at a juncture when the fund sanctioned by the Ministry is yet to be utilized completely would not be possible. Moreover, most of the laborers being engaged by the BRO for the task of developing the National Highway are local laborers, majority of whom are settling on either sides of the National Highway.

For the development of the National Highway, the BRO gets around 9 to 11 percent of the fund sanctioned and it from this amount that the BRO has been paying the hired local laborers, the source said, adding that in such a situation the Government of India would be simply handed over the task to the State PWD.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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