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Just a wider road in place of 4-lane NH

By Ron Duarah

DIBRUGARH, March 7 � Much has been claimed and spoken about the four-lane national highway connectivity between Guwahati and Dibrugarh. Following environmental and wildlife concerns, the proposed four-lane highway skirted the Kaziranga National Park by taking a detour at Kaliabor Tiniali, crossing the Brahmaputra near Tezpur, then again crossing the Brahmaputra near Biswanath Ghat and then following the existing national highway from Numaligarh to Dibrugarh.

Tenders to enlist contractors for widening the Numaligarh � Demow (near Sivasagar) section were floated last year itself, and works have already been allocated. However, work is yet to commence on the same, chiefly due to land transfer, power line shifting and other issues. It was believed that this year, the remaining Demow � Dibrugarh section too would be taken up for widening, but very few people in the PWD in Assam know where the matter stands. At least two such engineers, in very senior ranks, refused to officially comment.

However, what would come as the biggest shock for the public is that this so-called four-lane highway would not exactly be the four-lane highways one is used to, elsewhere in the country. The section between Nagaon and Dibrugarh that has been taken up for �four laning� would in fact be just a wider national highway. In place of the current 7.5 metre (10 metre wide at certain places like Jakhalabandha, Kaliabor, Bokakhat, Jorhat and Dibrugarh), the proposed �four-lane� highway would be widened to 14 metres. There will not be an eight to ten foot wide divider, as one sees in other four-lane highways. There is also no provision for a ten foot wide side berm, for emergency parking.

If this is how the road is going to take shape, one can be sure of one thing: the increasing number of highway accidents would not come down, but go up exponentially, as there would be literally no median to segregate up and down traffic.

It is gathered that the Assam PWD engineers have drawn up this palliative plan to hoodwink the people of the State by taking up a wider highway and naming it as a four-lane highway. Earlier, the Union Ministry of Highways wanted the Nagaon � Dibrugarh four-lane highway to be constructed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Seeing a plum project slipping away, the Assam PWD engineers lobbied at every level to keep the project to themselves.

Knowing the poor reputation of the Assam PWD in good road building, the Ministry decided to go ahead with the project, but with severe strictures. The Assam PWD got the project, but what should have been a proper four-lane national highway, is all set to be just a wider highway. This is yet another example of how a good project has been truncated by inefficient Assam PWD engineers. At the end of the day, a major portion of Assam would remain without a proper highway to carry the increasing number of vehicles, at least for the next 25 years. One wonders whom to hold responsible for this fiasco.

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Just a wider road in place of 4-lane NH

DIBRUGARH, March 7 � Much has been claimed and spoken about the four-lane national highway connectivity between Guwahati and Dibrugarh. Following environmental and wildlife concerns, the proposed four-lane highway skirted the Kaziranga National Park by taking a detour at Kaliabor Tiniali, crossing the Brahmaputra near Tezpur, then again crossing the Brahmaputra near Biswanath Ghat and then following the existing national highway from Numaligarh to Dibrugarh.

Tenders to enlist contractors for widening the Numaligarh � Demow (near Sivasagar) section were floated last year itself, and works have already been allocated. However, work is yet to commence on the same, chiefly due to land transfer, power line shifting and other issues. It was believed that this year, the remaining Demow � Dibrugarh section too would be taken up for widening, but very few people in the PWD in Assam know where the matter stands. At least two such engineers, in very senior ranks, refused to officially comment.

However, what would come as the biggest shock for the public is that this so-called four-lane highway would not exactly be the four-lane highways one is used to, elsewhere in the country. The section between Nagaon and Dibrugarh that has been taken up for �four laning� would in fact be just a wider national highway. In place of the current 7.5 metre (10 metre wide at certain places like Jakhalabandha, Kaliabor, Bokakhat, Jorhat and Dibrugarh), the proposed �four-lane� highway would be widened to 14 metres. There will not be an eight to ten foot wide divider, as one sees in other four-lane highways. There is also no provision for a ten foot wide side berm, for emergency parking.

If this is how the road is going to take shape, one can be sure of one thing: the increasing number of highway accidents would not come down, but go up exponentially, as there would be literally no median to segregate up and down traffic.

It is gathered that the Assam PWD engineers have drawn up this palliative plan to hoodwink the people of the State by taking up a wider highway and naming it as a four-lane highway. Earlier, the Union Ministry of Highways wanted the Nagaon � Dibrugarh four-lane highway to be constructed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Seeing a plum project slipping away, the Assam PWD engineers lobbied at every level to keep the project to themselves.

Knowing the poor reputation of the Assam PWD in good road building, the Ministry decided to go ahead with the project, but with severe strictures. The Assam PWD got the project, but what should have been a proper four-lane national highway, is all set to be just a wider highway. This is yet another example of how a good project has been truncated by inefficient Assam PWD engineers. At the end of the day, a major portion of Assam would remain without a proper highway to carry the increasing number of vehicles, at least for the next 25 years. One wonders whom to hold responsible for this fiasco.