[ Nellie N Manpoong ]
In the past three months, we have written a little over 10 times about the four-lane road construction in the capital region. During this period, the only time the authorities concerned have updated us on the road has come in the form of a response to an article by a colleague regarding the right of way, and another on the disruption of water supply due to the road construction.
Additionally, there have been a few updates from the government on expediting the construction.
Rewind to four months earlier: On 20 September, 2019, Joint Secretary to CM, Kangki Darrang, had instructed officials of the highway division as well as TK Engineering to complete the road between Itanagar and Naharlagun within this winter.
The officials of the executing agency said prolonged rainfall prevented them from expediting the work, but gave assurance that they would press into service all their resources from 25 September, 2019 onwards.
Coincidently, each time this reporter has written about the delay in the construction of the four-lane road, the rain gods have come down to present the authorities with a response. This time seems no different with pregnant clouds hovering above as I write this piece.
The officials had also urged the government to divert the traffic during nighttime in order to enable their men and machinery to work without any disruption.
“If the traffic is diverted through the Jullang road, the road stretch will be completed within two months,” they had informed the team from the CMO.
It has been four months since the officials had said “two months.” Also, when the governor and the chief minister met on 27 September last year and held discussions on the condition of the roads in different parts of the state, particularly the Itanagar-Naharlagun road, it seemed like there would be some changes. Sadly, the condition has not improved in any substantial way.
The public understands that there are various reasons linked to the delay, and the people have been cooperative. They have taken diversions as instructed, and have been following traffic rules better than before. Vehicles, especially two-wheelers, have met with accidents because they cannot see through the waterlogged potholes. Cars have sustained unlimited damages and even broken down midway.
Members of the Rajiv Gandhi University Students’ Union and the Students’ Union of NERIST walked near about 30 kms in clouds of dust on the same road during the protest march taken out against the Citizenship Amendment Act on 13 December, 2019, with the uphill march making them breathe in all that dust into their lungs.
We know we will not be compensated for the accidents that take place on the pothole-ridden roads or for the damages our vehicles sustain. No one will clear our medical bills for the dust allergies and respiratory problems. We take joy in the simple things now, such as the carpeting of a small strip of the road in Papu Nallah that took place in November last year, and the new rubble roadbed flattened out near the Dree festival ground. The very recently filled up potholes in Itanagar were another source of joy to several people.
However, little has changed and only true love, personal emergency, official work or a sports utility vehicle can encourage one to travel from Point A in Naharlagun to Point B in Itanagar every single day.
The people and their vehicles have endured all that they could, and I see no point in putting the blame on anyone because it seems like those who are in authority do not travel on these roads or have reasons the public would not be able to comprehend.
If anyone is listening, remember that winter is coming to a close.