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Highway tag sought for 360km road link

Guwahati, Jan. 22: The Assam PWD has approached the Union ministry of roads, transport and highways to include the planned 360km alternative road project to connect Guwahati with Silchar as a national highway project.

Officials of the department told The Telegraph that they have submitted the detailed project report of the Rs 1,500-crore project that aims to cut transportation time between Guwahati and Silchar by at least 50 per cent.

Oscar Fernandes, Union cabinet minister for transport, road and highways today said that he has also taken up the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The minister was in Guwahati today to address a meeting held as part of the 74th annual session of the Indian Road Congress that concluded here today.

The highway that connects Guwahati with Silchar via neighbouring Meghalaya is nearly 600km long and takes at least 12 to 14 hours to traverse.

“The Union minister for state for roads, transport and highways, Sarvey Sathyanarayana, has assured us that he will seriously consider our proposal and declare it a national highway. Once our proposal is approved, we will receive funds from the Centre, which will help us implement the project and provide people an alternative route to travel between Guwahati and Silchar in seven to eight hours,” the official said.

Sathanarayana made the assurance to the state PWD officials during the ongoing 74th annual session of the Indian Road Congress here, the officials said.

The Union minister on Sunday inaugurated the session, which will conclude tomorrow.

The department had recently said the Silchar-Guwahati route was one of the major missing road links that needed to be plugged for an integrated road communication network in Assam.

Missing links are points beyond which there is no road connectivity and people mostly have to depend either on waterways or travel via other states.

The other major missing links are Dhubri-Fulbari-Srirampur, Dhola-Sadiya and Dhakuakhana-Tekelifuta.

The department said work on projects to bridge the missing links was in different stages and it will require at least another 20 years to have an integrated road communication network.

The alternative route aims to connect Guwahati and Silchar via Nellie in Morigaon district and Harangajao in the hilly Dima Hasao district.

Construction of the alternative road, however, is unlikely to be an easy task given the problems faced by the government agencies, including the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in implementing the East-West corridor project.

The NHAI officials have complained of problems involving militant groups active in the Dima Hasao district while implementing the project.

Commissioner and special secretary, Assam PWD (national highways and buildings), Ajoy Chandra Bordoloi, recently said the construction of an alternative route to connect Guwahati and Silchar would immensely help people to travel between Barak and Brahmaputra valleys.

“Bihar has set a target of providing its residents with road connectivity to travel to Patna in five to six hours. Similarly, we also want to enable our people to travel to Guwahati from any part of the state within 7 to 8 hours. But in order to achieve that target we have to bridge our missing links first,” Bordoloi said.

Deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, during a review meeting of infrastructure projects in the Northeast yesterday, said 81 per cent of the 500km highways of under the East-West corridor in the region is complete and likely to be finished by December this year.


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