‘Land acquisition a big hurdle in Meghalaya’

Modi government’s North East push will only see 7.5 per cent road target achieved

New Delhi: Even as poor road connectivity in India’s North East region continues to stall the government’s ‘Act East Policy’, the state-run company mandated to improve this crucial infrastructure will barely manage 7.5 per cent of its target by 2019, official data shows.
According to its updated work status, the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (NHIDCL), established in July 2014, will only be able to construct a little over 300 km of roads till 2019, against a target of 4,000 km it has been tasked with building in the coming years at a cost of around Rs 45,164 crore.
The company, specifically formed to replace the Border Roads Organization (BRO) following its failure to meet its targets, says it will be able to complete a total of 63.39 km of roads by 2017, 129.21 km by 2018 and 108.53 km by 2019.
Elaborating the difficulties faced by the NHIDCL authorities in the execution of the projects in the North East, a corporation official, who did not wish to be named, said: “Land acquisition is a major issue. We have not been able to start the work in Meghalaya as we have not been able to get the land despite speaking to the higher authorities. Still we are trying to find out ways after meeting them over the issue.”
Arunachal Pradesh will benefit the most in the entire region as majority of the roads to be completed by 2019 lie in the border and interior areas of the state.
Most of the NHIDCL projects now are either at the preparation of DPR (Detailed Project Report) or location identification stage, the official said.
According to the government, good quality roads in the North East can boost India’s trade with the entire Southeast Asian region, which has been marred by poor connectivity.
Earlier, Vietnam’s Ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh said that they did not wish to invest in the Northeastern region of India because of poor road and air connectivity which posed a hindrance to developing tourism and other economic linkages.
Citing other reasons behind the difficulties faced by NHIDCL, the senior authority said that there were several cases where work would get stalled as the contractors used to go to court over several ‘petty’ issues.
“As of now we are not even giving chance to the contractors or the DPR developers to commit any mistake. We are either serving them notice or directly blacklisting the companies if found guilty of any malpractice during the road contract,” the senior authority said.
Among the projects given to NHIDCL in the initial months in 2014 include 23 projects in Arunachal Pradesh, 11 projects in Manipur, nine in Meghalaya, seven in Tripura, four in Nagaland and three in Mizoram.
In several projects, Japanese infrastructure major Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has also chipped in.
The 100-km road project between Imphal, Manipur, and Moreh on the Indo-Myanmar border is being funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), as it is a link between India and Myanmar.
Considering the good performance of NHIDCL, the Indian government has appointed the Public Sector Unit as a consultant for the construction of over 600 km of postal roads in the Terai region bordering Nepal. (IANS)

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