Delay in road projects in Arunachal earns Gadkari’s ire

[ Taba Ajum ]
ITANAGAR, Jan 10: Union Road, Transport & Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has reportedly expressed deep concern over the slow progress of the road projects in Arunachal that are being funded by the central government.
During a meeting held on the 7th of this month in Delhi to review the highway projects in the northeastern states, Gadkari was reportedly deeply unhappy over the lack of progress on several important road projects being undertaken in the state.
A source who was privy to the meeting informed this daily that the minister was so miffed at the lack of progress that he even threatened to stop funding road projects in Arunachal.
Most of the agencies, such as the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), the ministry of road, transport & highways (MoRTH) and the NHIDCL, who are undertaking the majority of the road projects in the state, alleged that compensation issues and hostile public are the main reasons for the delay in completing the road projects.
To this, Gadkari reportedly asked the officers of Arunachal present at the meeting, “What are the chief minister, the chief secretary and the deputy commissioners doing? Is it not their job to ensure construction of roads without any hindrance?”
The union minister came down especially hard on the BRO for failing to complete the Tato-Taliha road on time. The first tender for this stretch had been floated in 2008. However, the BRO officers on their part alleged that lack of support from the public and compensation issues have delayed the project.
A senior BRO officer present at the meeting reportedly made the startling claim that “Arunachal is more difficult to work in than even places like Jammu & Kashmir,” and raised serious concern for the safety of the BRO’s employees working in the state.
“Issues like compensation, environment clearance, muck dumping, heavy landslide during monsoon, and lack of support from locals were cited as major reasons for the delay in completion of road projects by contractors as well as the BRO, the NHIDCL and the MoRTH. But all of them were constantly emphasizing on compensation and hostility from public as key reasons. It was very embarrassing to hear such thing at the meeting,” the source said.
The majority of the road projects in the state are being funded through the BRO, the NHIDCL and the MoRTH. The state PWD highway monitors the projects of the NHIDCL and the MoRTH in the state. Most of the highway projects, including the ambitious Trans-Arunachal Highway (TAH), have failed to take off properly, especially in the western and central parts of the state.
Meanwhile, it is reported that not a single bidder turned up to participate in the tender process for some packages on the Potin to Pangin stretch of the TAH.