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Meghalaya road project in slow lane

Shillong Nov. 29: The Meghalaya government is rushing to build 1,625km of roads in rural areas under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, but the land-locked state is “likely” to miss the 2015 deadline.

The $230 million project was supposed to be completed between 2011 and 2015. But, till now, not a single kilometre of road has been built.

The state is still engaged in preparing detailed project reports for the project funded by the World Bank. A World Bank delegation, led by senior rural road specialist Ashok Kumar and lead transport specialist Ke Fang, today reviewed the implementation of the road project with chief minister Mukul Sangma, PWD (roads) minister Sniawbhalang Dhar and other state officials.

Admitting to the slow progress of the project, Sangma said they discussed how to remedy the situation and remove bottlenecks in implementing the project — especially the need to upscale efficiency in quality control, engineering and the capability of local contractors.

“We need to absorb this fund sanctioned by the World Bank and so that the connectivity of villages identified in the project improves,” Sangma said.

According to the PWD (roads) minister, only 224 detailed project reports have been prepared for about 600km of roads so far. Meghalaya has taken time to prepare the detailed reports and evaluating tenders, thus leading to slow implementation of the project. Work was also stalled during the monsoon.

Last year, the Meghalaya government outsourced preparation of detailed project reports to consultants from outside the state. Two private agencies — Archtech Consultants Private Limited and Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services — have been entrusted to prepare the detailed project reports.

Waterways project: Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma today said three rivers had been identified for developing trade links with Bangladesh through inland waterways.

The three rivers include the Kynshi in West Khasi Hills district, Simsang in South Garo Hills and Jingiram in West Garo Hills.

Sangma said the state needed to adopt a comprehensive action plan to integrate inland waterways with existing transport systems and urged the World Bank to provide a consultant to study the proposal.

“Once the study is completed, we will submit a proposal the central government for its approval and we will do it on a fast-track basis,” Sangma said.

The inland waterways project would be a multipurpose scheme and this mode of transport is cheaper and more environmentally friendly.