SHILLONG, Aug 8 � Landlocked Meghalaya�s two most ambitious projects, the 61.80-km four-laning of Guwahati-Shillong National Highway 40 and 47.06-km Shillong by-pass have hit road blocks.
Construction for widening NH-40 began early this year, but it came to a standstill at Umsning, Ri-Bhoi district after controversy relating to land compensation and re-alignment cropped up recently.
The Rs 536-crore project was approved by the Central Government to ease traffic snarls on NH-40, which connects Guwahati with the State Capital and extends to Barak Valley in Assam and Mizoram through NH-44. Out of the budget, Rs 167 crore has already been paid as land compensation.
But, now there is confusion whether the project should be re-aligned and the existing old NH-40 in Umsning be widened as the earlier alignment seems to be passing through a church and, therefore, there is opposition. Moreover, there are other issues of land acquisition in the area.
The Deputy Commissioner of Ri-Bhoi district has reportedly submitted a report on the issue. The government is yet to respond and take action on it.
The Rs 220.35-crore Shillong by-pass project, on the other hand, is facing similar opposition in Mawryngkneng, East Khasi Hills from NGOs and landowners. The project is over 20 years old.
The road would connect NH-40 with NH 44 by bifurcating at Umiam (Barapani) and emerging at Mawryngkneng. Trucks and other heavy vehicles moving to Jaintia Hills, Barak Valley and further would take this route.
Last month, however, NGOs together with landowners from Mawryngkneng have claimed that the project has veered from its alignment. The NGOs want the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), State Government officials to go for a joint inspection and rectify the alignment.
Both the projects are being monitored directly by the NHAI, although the construction is being done by private construction companies � GR Cheetak in the case of Shillong by-pass and NH-40 jointly by Infrastructure and Leasing & Financial Services Ltd. and Ramky Infrastructure Ltd.
�The alignments for the projects have been approved by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and cannot be altered, so it�s up to the State Government to sort out these new problems,� a senior official from the PWD said.
He said that although land has been acquired for the Shillong by-pass, however, some stretches of land in Umsning is yet to be acquired, the official said. �ILFAS and Ramsky have said that it would leave out the Umsning stretch and continue with its work. A decision is yet to be taken though,� the official said.