DIBRUGARH, March 8 � In what would have been one of the world�s longest road flyovers, a proposal to construct a four laned flyover over the Kaziranga National Park was scuttled, with the Assam PWD suggesting the �Kaziranga skirting� theory. A few years ago, a high level team from the Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH), while visiting the region, suggested the 21 km long flyover at Kaziranga, to take care of environment and wildlife concerns. While the Central team was in no worry about funding, the Assam PWD team harped on funds shortage. For the record, national highway development programmes are totally Centrally funded.
Faced with obstacles from the Assam PWD, the flyover project has been kept under wraps. In the meanwhile, residents of Bokakhat and Kaziranga have even gone on an agitation, demanding the four lane highway from Nagaon to Dibrugarh through Kaziranga and Bokakhat, with proper wildlife and environmental safeguards.
Sources in MoRTH told this newspaper today that the flyover project can be revived even today, provided the Assam government re-opens the matter. The sources said this would be cost effective, as the �Kaziranga skirting� theory is more expensive at the end of the day, as it entails construction of a new bridge over the Brahmaputra near Bokakhat, and widening the existing Kaliabhomora bridge from its present 7.5 metre wide carriageway to an additional width capacity enhancement to take on another similar carriageway.
Moreover, the MoRTH sources said the very idea of a 50 km detour for a person travelling from upper Assam to Nagaon and further towards Guwahati etc is a bad concept. According to the road plan as it stands today, once the Nagaon � Dibrugarh highway is widened, a person travelling from Jorhat to Guwahati would travel along the National Highway 37 upto Numaligarh, cross the Brahmaputra, travel upto Tezpur on National Highway 52, cross the Brahmaputra once again to take the National Highway 37 at Kaliabor Tiniali before reaching Nagaon and Guwahati. The detour would entail additional travel of at least 50 kms.
If the Kaziranga flyover is constructed, the travel distance from Dibrugarh/Jorhat to Nagaon/Guwahati would remain the same as it is today. And if one takes the Nagaon bypass to Guwahati, a few kilometres and that much travel time and fuel would be saved.
Meanwhile, the Assam PWD is on the verge of taking up the work of widening the National Highway 52 from Baihata Chariali to Tezpur and Gohpur in two phases. The existing 7.5 metre wide highway would then be 10 metres wide, with 1.25 metre wide paved shoulders on either side of the road. This section was earlier scheduled to be four laned.
The MoRTH sources clarified today that the 177 km stretch between Numaligarh and Dibrugarh is likely to be taken up for �proper four laning�, with 7.5 metre wide dual carriageway 1.5 metre hard shoulder and 1.2 metre wide earthen shoulder on either side, buttressed by a 4.5 metre wide median (lane divider). There is also a plan for service roads on either side, as is existing along the East West corridor and other expressways. The detailed project report for the same was submitted to the ministry today by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). This stretch is proposed to be taken up under the BoT (Annuity) scheme under Special Accelerated Road Development Programme � North East (SARDP-NE), and the implementing agency will be NHAI and not Assam PWD.
Issues that could delay the construction include land acquisition, shifting of power and phone lines, tree felling permissions. The sources said the construction of the entire stretch upto Dibrugarh should not take more than five years under normal circumstances. The final work orders for the works are to be issued within May this year.