Two road projects for same destination
[ Tongam Rina ]
ITANAGAR, Jan 17: The standing committee on National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has granted approval for survey and investigation of the 2-lane Namchik-Vijaynagar road which falls under the Namdapha Tiger Reserve, but with conditions.
While granting its permission on 9 January, 2018, the Board said that the single lane CC road will improve accessibility for the park authority to monitor illegal activities within the Tiger Reserve.
It said that the implementing agency “may be allowed to construct single-lane CC road from M’pen gate to Tilo Hka near Gandhigram.”
The Board further took note of the expanding population and land-based economic activities (mostly cultivation of large cardamom), which it said was affecting the biodiversity of the national park.
Four Yobbin villages of Hisichu, Niboti, Ngwazakha and Nisadhi fall under the park.
The National Tiger Conservation Authority, according to the Board, has also recommended the road proposal with the condition that the road falling within the Tiger Reserve will be maintained as fair weather, non-tarred CC road, not exceeding 3 metre in width and that the survey and investigation shall be done in consultation with the Field Director of the Namdapha Tiger Reserve.
With the forest clearance, the survey and investigation will soon resume. But according to sources, Vijayanagar has two road projects for the same stretch of road.
One is under the Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) where the construction is underway, while the other is under the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme.
Then Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh had laid the foundation stone in February 2013 for the 157 km Miao-Vijaynagar road project, which was touted as the longest road in the country under the PMGSY with estimated 25 bridges. The target for completion of the PMGSY was four years from 2013.
Interestingly, prior forest clearance was not sought even though 100 km of the total road was inside the park. The ministry had proposed that the stretch falling under the park will be gravel-no tar road, while the remaining portion would be concrete.
The 157 KM stretch is divided into four segments Miao-M’pen (10 KM), M’pen-Gandhigram(115 KM), Gandhigram-Ramnagar (19 km) and Ramnagar-Vijaynagar(13 KM). Each segment falls under different contractors. Two of the firms have close links with two sitting cabinet ministers of the state.
According to departmental sources, only about 25 kilometres have been completed under the first and second phases of the PMGSY as the construction work was halted from 2015-2017 due to litigation on lack of forest clearance.
Another 28 KM is expected to be completed within this March, as per departmental sources.
On the other hand, according to documents available, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highway (MoRT&H) decided to implement the 2-lane Vijaynagar-Miao-Namchik road with a total length of 174km under SARDP-NE Phase ‘B’ on EPC mode.
“The project road from Namchik to Vijaynagar connects Vijaynagar at Myanmar border with other parts of Arunachal Pradesh, especially with NH 153 through SH-25. The existing road has a general intermediate lane carriageway from Namchik-Miao and from Miao to M’pen the carriageway width is single lane. From M’pen to Gandhigram around 120km is only accessible by foot road through the Namdapha National park. From Gandhigram to Vijaynagar, earthen road of single lane exists”.
The MoRTH stated that it has entrusted two consultancy services, including one from the US for the work of carrying out Feasibility Study and Preparation of Detailed Project Report for upgrading the two lanning of Vijaynagar-Miao-Namchik road. The effective date of start of Consultancy Services was noted as 15 January, 2016.
Even as the two road projects take off simultaneously, more or less on the same stretch of the road, people of Vijaynagar circle have been without roads almost entirely for decades now.
The Miao-Vijaynagar road built by the PWD was inaugurated in 1974 but few years later, the department abandoned the road for want of funds, isolating the entire Vijaynagar circle, which continues even today.