M’laya to get 361 km of national highway

From CK Nayak

 New Delhi: Landlocked Meghalaya is likely to get a boost in the vital road sector with the Centre announcing that as much as 361 kilometers of State Highways would be converted as National Highway this year, besides other road projects.

As per the announcement, 401 km of State Highway starting from Srirampur on NH 27, and passing through Dhubri connecting Phulbari, Tura, Rongrram, Ronjeng and terminating at Nongstoin on NH 106 would be upgraded as National Highway. Of this 361 km will be in Meghalaya and the remaining 40 km in Assam.

The hill state not only received the maximum sanction from the NHAI but also the highest among all the NE states and even more than many bigger states in the country, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Dr CP Joshi informed The Shillong Times on the sidelines of a conference here this week.

Dr Joshi said that his Ministry has made spectacular strides in awarding projects under the National Highway Development Project (NHDP). The Ministry has awarded 7400 km or roads in 58 projects and bids for eight more projects of 982 km had been received and is under process of award in different parts of the country, he said.

“As far as the North East is concerned, the Centre has awarded nearly 2000 km of roads in the region out of which 983 km is under the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme for the North Eastern Region (SARDP-NE) alone,” Dr Joshi said.

In some cases work has been completed while work is in full swing in other areas, he added.

Upgradation of the Dhubri-Phulbari National Highway will have huge socio-economic implications for Assam and Meghalaya, particularly the latter. This road will end right at the border of Bangladesh and facilitate in trans-border trade.

Besides, this highway would also serve the twin purpose of providing much-needed connectivity between Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills, and the rest of the country via Dhubri and Siliguri, with a sizeable reduction in road distance.

Furthermore with construction of a proposed bridge on the newly-announced national highway, there will be reduction of road length by around 185 km from the south bank of the Brahmaputra covering vast underdeveloped areas such as Tura, Williamnagar and Rajabala in Meghalaya and Hatsingimari, Mankachar, Fakirganj and South Salmara in Assam.

The highways will benefit the economically-backward areas of West Garo Hills and Dhubri, which are closed in by the Brahmaputra on one side and Bangladesh on the other.

In the economic sector the national highway will give a boost to cement, coal, oil and tea trade. It will also give a fillip to tourism in Meghalaya.

At present work is underway in several road projects in Meghalaya, sources have informed. There is already a 93-km road project from Garobadha to Dalu funded by the Asian Development Bank. Work is also in progress for the all-important Guwahati-Shillong-Dawki and the Shillong-Jowai-Silchar highways, the sources added.

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