PWD and BRO finally begins pothole-filling but says no blacktopping
Morung Express News
Dimapur | September 20
Potholes, water-logging and traffic snarls have become the norm on the national highways and other thoroughfares in Dimapur. The usual culprits – fund constraints and embezzlement, encroachment and resistance from land owners – come to the fore whenever debate ensues on the condition of roads.
It is highly unlikely that the roads of Dimapur will see improvement during the ongoing financial year as the two main agencies responsible for road maintenance has cited fund constraints as preventing full scale and smoothening works. BRO officials told the media on September 20 that the agency is financially constrained to take up ‘metalling’ works on the Purana Bazaar stretch of NH 29 and other sections, which falls within its jurisdictional control. The most the BRO could do is fill up potholes with gravel and earth as temporary measures, the officials added.
As stated by the officials, BRO labourers began filling up potholes on September 20 on the stretch between Purana Bazaar and 2 ½ Mile.
This however was not a voluntary reaction as the BRO jumped to action following an ultimatum served by the Dimapur Naga Students Union (DNSU). The ultimatum with a 15-day deadline was submitted to the Executive Engineer, BRTF (SEWAK), Dimapur on September 19.
Besides fund constraints, the BRO officials said that absence of drainage is the chief reason contributing to the early wearing of ‘metalling’ on this particular stretch. With the black-topped portion at 7m in width, additional land will be required to construct a drainage system. Resistance from landowners on both sides of the highway is acting as a stumbling block, the officials said.
The DNSU had served a similar ultimatum to the Executive Engineer, PWD (Roads & Bridges), Dimapur on September 8. Like the BRO, the PWD swung to action on September 17. The work however will be limited to filling up potholes on sections under its jurisdiction. As per the DNSU, the EE told visiting DNSU officials that the department is not in a position to take up full-scale ‘carpeting and metalling’ works.
An unlikely suspect – shifting responsibility aided in part by confusion over jurisdiction – is also to a certain degree contributing to the dismal road conditions. In theory, there is a clear division for the maintenance of the roads of Dimapur, including the national highways passing through the city. For instance, the stretch starting from New Field Check-post to the Old Overbridge police point is under the BRO, while from the Old Overbridge police point till Purana Bazaar is under the PWD (National Highways). Roads falling within the city limits, including portions of national highways are said to be under the R&B and NH wings of the PWD with the Municipal body shouldering the responsibility of maintaining inner city link roads.
It is though alleged that a game of ‘passing the buck’ plays out when it comes to actual work. As summed up by one DNSU official today, “When it comes to funds everybody wants it but when its boils down to actual work, there is not much enthusiasm shifting responsibility from one to the other.”