|Four-laning of NH-15 stretch going on at snail’s pace|
BISWANATH CHARIALI, May 1 - The four-laning and widening work of the National Highway from the end of Biswanath Chariali bypass to Gohpur was to be completed in three years. The work for the 57.50 km-long portion of the highway began in January in 2016 and the job was assigned to M/s TK Engineering and Consortium Private Limited. It may be mentioned here that Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India had decided to widen the highway up to Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh which is also known as the ‘backbone’ of northern Assam. It also connects the vital Indo-China border with the rest of the country.
Four laning of Holongi near Gohpur to Itanagar (around 19.20 km long), a part of the highway, was already completed. The existing stretch (Ch-208.00 km on NH-15 to Ch-265.50 km on NH 15) from the end of Biswanath Chariali bypass to Gohpur is a component of the SARDP-NE Project connecting Itanagar, the capital city of Arunachal Pradesh. Also this road connects the districts of Sonitpur, Lakhimpur and Dhemaji of Assam and several districts of Arunachal Pradesh with the rest of the country. The Project was to widen the existing two-lane road of 57.50 km stretch from Biswanath Chariali to Gohpur to four lane standard with the scope of 4 new major bridges, 4 new railway overbridges, 26 minor bridges and 78 new culverts along with one toll plaza, 7 km of service road, 11.5 km of roadside drain, 1.5 km of protection work, 108 minor junctions and road marking & painting, informatory, cautionary, hazard marking sign boards and gantry erection for this 57.50 km long stretch. At a later stage, the said company got the contract for the four-laning and widening work of the National Highway from Jamugurihat to Biswanath Chariali bypass, too.
However, the work at present from Jamugurihat to Gohpur is going on at a snail's pace and it is unlikely that the four-laning process would be over very soon. The process has led the road to such a dilapidated condition that common people have to think twice before travelling by this road. Big potholes, scattered sharp-edged stones, incomplete piles of some of the major bridges in rivers like Buroi, Borgang and Burigang, half-finished culverts are common sights along the road. Several accidents have taken place along the highway only because of the alleged lackadaisical attitude of the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) which supervises the four-laning work. With the onset of the monsoon, the highway from Jamugurihat to Gohpur is going to haunt the commuters most. The work for the proposed bypass near Biswanath Chariali town connecting Sakomatha and Burhigang is also yet to begin causing heavy traffic jam in the town, the district head quarter of Biswanath district. A good number of heavy vehicles including long-distance trucks and buses ply along the highway everyday that goes through the town leading to much problem for the common men.
However, bowing to the pressure from the public and other social organisations including AASU, M/s T K Engineering and Consortium Private Limited have started repairing of the existing road from Jamugurihat to Biswanath Chariali town and it is likely to be completed within 15 days. According to the PRO of the M/s T K Engineering and Consortium Private Limited, ‘15 No. Rashtriya Ghaipath Kshatigrasta Suraksha Eikyamancha’ had stopped the four-laning process as the affected people were not paid sufficient compensation by the concerned government agencies. It may be mentioned here that the government had acquired land for the four-laning and expansion of the National Highway 15 from Dolabari, Tezpur in Sonitpur district to Rajgarh, Gohpur in Biswanath district in 2012. It included 132 villages from Dolabari, Tezpur to Rajgarh, Gohpur.
The common people of Biswanath district have urged the authorities to take necessary action to complete the work at the earliest. The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) has also urged the Authority to take immediate measures to repair the highway. The student body observes that the deplorable condition of the said road had made the lives of the common people miserable and it had also led to frequent accidents along the road. They have threatened to observe a 15-hour long road blockade programme if the construction work on the National Highway 15 is not resumed by May 5.