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Poor construction of NEC road irks commuters

By Correspondent

BARPETA, Oct 7 � At a time when the Central and the State governments are laying emphasis on road connectivity in backward and inaccessible areas, a section of officers have allegedly used the schemes for minting money. The allegation has been proved true in respect of the reconstruction of the Hajo-Nalbari-Sarthebari-Nagaon Road by the North Eastern Council. Though the road is yet to be completed as work on a number of bridges is still going on, the poor quality of works on the road has made it difficult for commuters to travel along it. As most of the works were done during the last two and three years, there has been a big question mark as to the role of the quasi-Central organisation and at the same time unholy nexus between the contractors and the supervising engineers.

People here have squarely blamed the NEC and the State PWD authority for their indifference to the large-scale misuse of funds in the name of construction of the road and requested the authorities concerned to take appropriate steps to repair it and punish guilty officials and contractors involved in the process so that examples are set and no one in future dares to build roads of such poor quality.

Though the reconstruction of the Hajo-Nalbari-Sarthebari-Nagaon Road connecting three important districts of western Assam was lauded by the people, the deterioration of the road within two years from completion has dampened their spirit.

This important road connects Kamrup, Nalbari and Barpeta districts in western Assam. It was very narrow and the craters above the road made the journey miserable for a long time. Several accidents with a number of casualities on the road earned a bad name for it.

People heaved a sigh of relief when the North Eastern Council took to rebuild it in 2005-06. Whereas the work on the road was completed in 2008, a number of bridges in its 70-km stretch are yet to be completed.

But it is a matter of concern that the road has suffered wear and tear within two years. In the 40-km stretch from Nalbari to Nagaon in Barpeta district, there are several craters at a number of places. It is evident that the norms for construction of a road were not followed.

The Solmara-Nagaon portion is the worst of all. Since the beginning of the works, people were alleging use of substandard materials and low quality work. There were allegations that sufficient quantities of stone, sand gravel and tars were not used. Rolling and watering was not done properly. All these allegations came to be true with the passage of time.

A common allegation is the nexus between the supervising engineers and contractors. The condition of the portion of the road between Sarthebari and Rauli in Barpeta district proves the allegation. It is hard to believe that this portion of the road was built only two or three years ago. The supervising engineer and the contractor were more concerned in enriching their coffers rather than mitigating the plight of commuters, it is alleged.

Besides the quality of pitch, the earth work on both sides was insufficient and as a result, it has shrunk in a number of locations. All these irregularities were deliberately ignored by the engineering personnel engaged in supervising and ensuring quality works.

It is learnt that the contract of the road was awarded with five years of maintenance term. But no reparing has been witnessed during the last two years in spite of the breaches at several places. The NEC authority seems to be indifferent to the wastage of a huge amount of public money. As there is no local office, people are helpless in spite of their willingness to lodge formal complaints against the contractors and engineers. They want punishment to the erring engineers for neglecting their duties and responsibilities.

If the state of affairs is allowed to go like this way, the entire reconstruction scheme worth about Rs 70 crore will turn into a farce. It is desirable that the NEC authority attend to the matter properly, institute a high-level inqury into the role of engineers engaged in the supervision of the Sarthebari-Nagaon portion of the road, punish the erring officials and repair the road to the expected level before it is too late.

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