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NH-53 Continue To Cut Sorry Figure, Jiri FCI Godown Crippled

IMPHAL, Jun 20: Apart from seeing no signs of improvement in the condition of ImphalJiribam stretch of National Highway-53, functioning of FCI at Jiribam continue to remain crippled due to lack of required infrastructures causing lots of inconveniences to the transporters.

Along with a team of media persons, representatives of the NH-53 Truck Owners’ Association recently conducted a tour to Jiribam to take stock of the present condition of the National Highway stretch from Imphal to Jiribam.

The joint inspection team also interacted with the officials of the FCI godown at Jiribam to understand their problems.

Talking to media persons on the sideline of the tour, spokesperson of NH-53 Truck Owners’ Association Kh Inaoba observed that development of Imphal-Jiribam road, which the Border Road Organization (BRO) has assured to complete by 2013, is unlikely.

Even if some improvement in the condition of the road stretch is seen in comparison to previous years, there is a lot that needs to be developed. Moreover, there is no indication of BRO employing adequate laborers and machineries to complete the task within the assured period, he contended.

Inaoba pointed out that one may come across a large number of machineries stationed along some portion of the National Highway. But most of these machineries belong to the North Eastern Frontier Railways for laying the railway track. The stone chips used by the BRO for development of the National Highway are also of poor quality.

Considering all these factors, the BRO assurance to complete the task by 2013 may have been mistaken for 2030, Inaoba added. It is said that NH-53 Truck Owners’ Association has been formed during a joint meeting of the truck owners and sub-contractors involved in transportation of rice and other essential commodities from Jiribam to Imphal under M/S Zimomi Traders, a designated contractor of FCI.

‘‘Our main mission is to bring in as much essential commodities as possible through this National Highway for the people of Manipur. So, we have discussed submission of petition to the BRO or the State PWD and other related authorities for development of NH-53 as the best highway’’, Inaoba disclosed.

Transporters have also given the attention to the need for development of NH-53 in due consideration of the fact that with exception to its deplorable condition, there is lesser instances of extortion along this route. One kg of rice is now sold at Rs 12. If the road improves, the price may even fall, the spokesperson maintained.

In the course of the inspection tour, it was found that there was no sign of improvement in the condition of the National Highway especially in Kambiron, Narak, Nungdolal and Shanti Khunou areas.

During rainy season last year, loaded trucks were sunken waist deep in mud in Kambiron area and it took 2/3 weeks to reach Imphal.

In Nungdolal area, where the terrain is rocky and the road steep, trucks still have no option but to move along precariously and own risk.

At Jiribam, the joint inspection team also interacted with the officials of FCI at Jiribam.

During the interaction, Manager in-charge of FCI, Jiribam A Khomei recalled that transportation of FCI goods by train upto Jiribam commenced for the first time in 1989. But the service remained stopped after one year.

However, in August last year, FCI approached the Railway authority resuming the service. Since then rice and other essential commodities of FCI are being transported by train to Jiribam, Khomei said, adding that the State Government has also given its fullest co-operation in this regard.

From January last year, 10 such trips are made for bringing FCI goods on an average. However, as the total capacity of the godown is just 2500 metric tonne, rice and other FCI goods could not store more than that. So, by the end of the current year, another godown of 2500 metric tonne capacity would be ready for use, Khomei assured, while pointing out that for stocking up adequate food to feed the people of Manipur, a godown with 20,000 metric tonne capacity would be required.

On the other hand, long years of negligence or lack of proper maintenance on the railway track extending upto Jiribam has resulted in derailment of the wagons/coaches as well as damage to goods from leakage of wagons especially during rainy season.

It is said that one wagon can carry 82 truck-loads of rice.

In addition to the problem of absence of an FCI siding inside its own complex, the existing siding at the Jiribam Railway station has also not been of much convenience for the transporters.

In this regard, the Manager in-charge pointed out that local transporters and laborers have to be hired again for the transportation of the goods from the railway station to the FCI godown. This takes time and creates lot of difficulties.

Labor contractor L Chaoba informed that if the goods could not be unloaded within 7 hours, Railway Authority imposed an additional tax of Rs 150 for every succeeding hour. There is also no approach road.

One Romeo, a representative of the Association, contended that there would be no question of shortage of food in Manipur if the condition of the NH-53 is improved and the infrastructural requirements in FCI godown at Jiribam are taken care of.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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