Look east and learn

Monday Musing

[ Taba Ajum ]

During a recent meeting in New Delhi to review the progress of the highway projects funded by the central government in the Northeast region, union Minister of Road, Transport & Highways (MoRTH), Nitin Gadkari, came down heavily on the government of Arunachal for failing to execute the road projects on time.
During the meeting, officers of the Border Roads Organisation, the MoRTH and the NHIDCL all cited compensation issue and lack of support from the local populace as the main reasons for the delay in completing the road projects in the state on time. The failure to complete the major road projects on time is increasingly becoming an embarrassing issue for the people as well as the state government.
The image of the state has been badly affected by the issues of compensation and public hostility. To make matters worse, the contractors use these two issues to divert attention whenever questions are raised about their inefficiency in completing road projects on time.
Most of the complaints regarding unfinished road projects arise from central and western Arunachal – the infamous Potin-Pangin Trans-Arunachal Highway (TAH) being the prime example. The issue of compensation has rocked this project. Now the fate of the project itself hangs in the balance as during the recent tender process, no bidder turned up to participate for some of the packages of the Potin to Pangin TAH. The reluctance of contractors to invest in the state is a worrying sign for the people, as well as for state government.
However, it is unfair to always lay the blame on the citizens for the failure of the road projects. No doubt there are bad elements in every society, but it is the duty of the government to ensure that law prevails. Over the years, the government of Arunachal has failed to implement the law of the land. The act of patronizing wrongdoers on the basis of clans and tribes has encouraged antisocial elements. This has to end if the state wants to truly progress.
Former US President, John F Kennedy, once famously said, “American roads are not good because America is rich, but America is rich because American roads are good.” This quote perhaps applies to Dambuk subdivision in Lower Dibang Valley district. Though the people of the area may not be rich like the Americans, the drastic improvement in road connectivity over the last few years has changed the dynamics of the area. The area once used to remain cut off from the rest of the world for the entire monsoon season, and the people there had to stock food before the onset of monsoon.
Dambuk is flanked by the Dibang and the Sisiri river on either side. With bridges coming up over both the rivers and the modern highway that now connects Dambuk, today it is one of the most thriving regions of the state.
Its horticulture products, especially oranges, are going worldwide, and the annual Orange Festival organised in Dambuk has made the region famous across the world.
Also, districts like East Siang, Lower Dibang Valley, Lohit, Namsai, Changlang, and, to a certain extent, Upper Siang, are witnessing massive improvement in road connectivity. These districts have not done any magic to improve the roads’ condition. A combination of factors, such as strong support from the public, decisive leadership of the elected representatives, and hard work by the officials posted in these districts, has brought about the changes.
It’s time for the rest of the state, especially for the people, the elected representatives and the government officials of western and central Arunachal to emulate their brothers and sisters in eastern Arunachal.