JORHAT, Sept 29 - The Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad�s district unit has slammed the State Government for going ahead with the foundation stone-laying of a railway overbridge at Na-Ali here by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on September 30 without acquiring the additional land required for the project from the local people.
Sonowal is scheduled to lay the foundation stone of the proposed three-lane overbridge of 854.68 metres length at the Na-Ali railway crossing, a long-standing demand of the local people and organisations to decrease traffic congestion. The Central Government�s share of funding in the project is Rs 67.76 crore.
The president of AJYCP�s Jorhat district unit Ritul Pathak, while addressing mediapersons at the students� body office here on Friday, said that they welcome the Government�s action of laying the foundation stone of the project, �but the main issue is whether work on the project could be started immediately as the land is yet to be acquired�.
He stated that as per information verified with a senior district administration official today, funds worth Rs 23.81 crore that is required to be paid as compensation to the respective owners for acquiring land was yet to be released by the State Government.
Pathak said that they had apprehension that this project too would be a non-starter like the much-hyped Jorhat-Lakhimpur bridge via Majuli, the foundation stone of which was laid at Moran on the eve of the Assembly polls by Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari in the presence of Sarbananda Sonowal, who was then the Union (MoS) Sports Minister, in February 28, 2016.
Pathak said that till date the detailed project report of the Jorhat-Lakhimpur via Majuli project has not yet been prepared. The AJYCP leader said that they believed that laying the foundation stone of the railway overbridge was �just a publicity stunt� similar to that of the Jorhat-Lakhimpur bridge via Majuli, done before the Assembly polls, with an eye on the ensuing parliamentary elections slated early next year.
The then Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had skipped the foundation stone-laying function of Gadkari alleging it was a poll gimmick as no DPR was prepared for the project before laying the foundation stone.
Pathak pointed out that Tarun Gogoi as the Chief Minister in January 2006 on the eve of Assembly elections had laid the foundation stone of the ambitious Chaulung Siu-Ka-Pha Samanway Kshetra, a mega cultural project on the outskirts of Jorhat city in hallowed memory of the founder of the Ahom kingdom, without acquiring land from the villagers.
Some of the land owners moved the Gauhati HC and stayed the acquisition process for several years, thus resulting in actual construction beginning in 2010. Further, the project is yet to be completed, he stated.
The AJYCP�s district unit general secretary Babu Dutta said that the Government should accord priority on speeding up the land acquisition process so that the railway overbridge does not hang fire.
Dutta claimed that since the past 13 years the AJYCP had been in the forefront in demanding construction of a railway overbridge in the area and the project was reportedly sanctioned by the earlier Central Government but got �stuck� as the previous Stste Government did not release its share.
Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Narayan Konwar told The Assam Tribune that the process of acquiring land was under way with the survey completed.
Konwar said the process was expected to be completed within the shortest possible time with the district administration according priority to the project. He said the administration recently held a meeting with the people who will have to give up land for the project and they had assured to fully cooperate in execution of the project.
Konwar said that funds for providing compensation was expected to be released by the Government soon. The DC said work on construction of an alternative route in place of the proposed overbridge will be started immediately after the foundation stone-laying ceremony as tender for the same has been issued.