WKH road projects depend on whims of pressure groups

NONGSTOIN, Jan 21: After various pressure groups had opposed the previous two-laning project of Nongstoin Mawthabah, the project was dropped. The allegations of the pressure groups were that this road project would ease uranium mining in the area.
But after the project was cancelled, the State Government, through the Ministry of Road Transport, has reversed the decision and will now construct a single-lane road/intermediate lane.
The reason given by the pressure groups in opposing this project in 2016 was that the two-lane project would facilitate uranium mining in the area and that Mawthabah village with only 10 households does not need this huge project. They instead asked that sanction should be given for a single-lane road or repair the existing road.
The State Government, in deference to the wishes of the pressure groups, has now approved and sanctioned a single-lane road. Recently, the PWD National Highways Division has floated tenders for the construction of single-lane or intermediate road from Nongstoin to Wahkaji Phase-A.
The single-lane road, which has totally changed the route from the previous project, will now start from Nongstoin to Wahkaji in phase-A whilst Phase-B will start from Wahkaji, Phlangdiloin Langpa up to Ranikor.
The 43-km single-lane road from Nongstoin – Wahkaji Phase-A with an estimated amount of Rs 260,65,65,000 will benefit hundreds of small villages having a combined population of 80,000 people.
It is also learnt that the amount for the 2nd phase of the 30-km project which will connect Wahkaji -Phlangdiloin up to Ranikor is yet to be sanctioned.
With the cancellation of the previous two-lane project, people in the area had lost hope of ever seeing good road communication in their area due to repeated opposition from pressure groups. Now they are hopeful that their dream for good road connectivity will be realised. Those who suffer most from poor road connectivity are farmers who cannot take their products to the market. Also many pregnant women find it difficult to reach healthcare centres for delivery by passing through non-existent roads.
Medrar K Bani, Sordar of Nongjyllieh, told The Shillong Times exclusively that the road presently was in a dilapidated condition and it will take over 2.5 hours for people travelling from Nongstoin to Nonglwai which is only about 20 kms. He said there is an urgent need for good road connectivity to these areas as it will ease their long-pending communication problems. Till date, people have to travel through this horrible road which is the only existing motorable road, he said.
Korne K Bani, Sordar of Mawthungkper, said that no one can imagine what hardships the people of the area have to endure in the absence of good roads. Therefore, he said that immediate construction of the road is the need of the hour as it will provide better and faster transportation besides boosting agriculture, tourism and other economic activities. Good roads will also help the sick and the suffering to reach medical centres at the district headquarters.
The Nongstoin Wahkaji road will not only benefit the people of Wahkaji but it will provide easier and faster communication to people inhabiting the most neglected areas starting from Nongstoiñ town, and hundreds of other villages. People thanked the MLA of Nongstoin as well as the MDA Government for following up the project with the Centre which has revived the project after it was cancelled.
Speaking with pressure group leaders about the ongoing progress of the single-lane road, Lumlang Kharsyiemlieh, president of HYC, West Khasi Hills unit, said that the Council till date has nothing to say about the newly sanctioned road project since the Council has yet to meet to discuss specifically the issue but for now the decision remains the same.
KSU president, West Khasi Hills unit, John Fisher told The Shillong Times that the Union cannot comment on whether they will allow or oppose the newly intermediate road project sanctioned from Nongstoin – Wahkaji, but the central body is still studying the documents related to the project.
He also said that since the road project has not mentioned anything about facilitating Uranium mining, the Union will have to allow the project but the decision will be taken after the meeting scheduled for February, 2021.

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