GUWAHATI, March 24 – Opposition members in the State Assembly today bemoaned the poor quality of roads and stressed the need for proper monitoring of the road projects for ensuring quality and bringing in accountability for tardy implementation.
Participating in the debate on demands for grants, the Opposition rued that poor road connectivity was a major factor retarding the State’s overall progress.
Prafulla Kumar Mahanta (AGP) said that to prevent the disturbing trend of newly-laid roads cru-mbling within a year of construction, a mechanism needed to be evolved for foolproof monitoring and ensuring both quality and transparency.
Ananta Deka (CPI-M) said that poor quality of roads constructed by the PWD was mainly due to the lack of monitoring and enforcement of construction guidelines. “All this has been resulting in huge wastage of public money and the PWD Minister should make a personal intervention to check this unhealthy trend,” he said.
Underscoring the need for replacing the wooden bridges with concrete ones, Deka said that the wooden bridges had turned out to be the milch cow for a section of vested interests as lakhs of rupees were being spent every year in their repair.
Drupad Bargohain (CPI) drew the attention of the Government to the neglect meted out to the State highways, saying that despite the recognition of their importance, little was done to improve their conditions. “The 212-km Dhodar Ali which runs through four upper Assam districts besides holding significance for several neighbouring States, continues to be in a dilapidated condition…Poor road conditions are not because of dearth of funds but due to wastage of funds,” he said.
Bargohain also said that the quality of rural roads constructed under the PMGSY project left a lot to be desired and there had been instances of PGGSY roads being diverted to areas not meeting the criteria to be covered under the project. He said that the work done by the Border Roads Organization was poor in several areas. He further pleaded for bringing in changes in the existing contract-awarding arrangement, reasoning that in most cases the contract for a road had to be ‘purchased’ which ultimately affects its quality.
Brindaban Goswami (AGP) said that roads in a city like Guwahati were inadequate to meet the burgeoning vehicular traffic and there was an urgent need for expanding and developing railways across the State. “This will lessen the pressure on the roads, save time and money for the commuters, and reduce the use of fossil fuels,” he said.
Calling for expediting the progress of the PGGSY, Goswami said that roads under the project started in 2005-06 were yet to be completed. He also demanded a railway bridge on proposed Brahmaputra bridge at Silghat-Tezpur.
Keshab Mahanta (AGP) suggested that the British-age PWD bungalows dating back to nearly a hundred years be developed as heritage property.
Making a strong pitch for enhancing the funds at the disposal of the PWD, Ramendra Narayan Kalita (AGP) said that the department should ensure maintenance of all norms and specifications of road construction. He said that there was an urgent need for developing alternative roads in and around Guwahati for easing the mounting traffic. “The roads of south-west Guwahati, in particular, badly need repair and maintenance,” he added.
Mahibul Haque (Congress associated member) expressed satisfaction with the progress of road projects in recent times, especially in his home district Dhubri. He said that the road network had touched many interior and backward areas.
Kartik Sana Sinha (BJP), Anup Phukan (AGP) and Sushila Hazarika (AGP) also took part in the debate.