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Poll boycott call over road

- Construction delay angers Garbhanga residents

Borjhar, Feb. 23: Residents of Garbhanga have threatened to boycott the general elections in protest against the state government’s failure to initiate construction of Lakhara-Pahamjal road near Guwahati.

A hilly terrain and home to about 15,000 people, Garbhanga is about 15km from Guwahati. The funds for the 21km road, the estimated cost of which is Rs 22.22 crore, were sanctioned on March 30 last year under the chief minister’s special package.

Paham Unnayan Samiti secretary Udiren Rongpi said besides launching a democratic agitation, they would boycott the general elections if construction of the road was not completed before the polls.

“We have been taken for a ride on each occasion before polls. This time, we will refrain from voting if our demand for the road is not met,” Rongpi told this correspondent.

Motorable roads are the need of the hour in the hilly area. “Health centres and schools will run smoothly only when motorable roads come up in the area,” Rongpi said.

However, clearance by the forest department is necessary before any work on the project is initiated.

A senior forest official said since the road passes through a reserve forest, diversion is must before initiating the work. “It is not the state forest department but the Union ministry of environment and forests that is authorised to divert forest land,” Amal Sarma, divisional forest officer of east Kamrup forest division, said.

The road is under the jurisdiction of Garbhanga reserve forest under east Kamrup forest division. According to section 2 of Forest Conservation Act 1980, no state or other authority could use forest land for non-forest purpose without approval of the Union ministry of environment and forests.

Sources said after diversion of the forestland, the net present value would have to be submitted.

The residents had recently organised a public meet at Numalipathar Lower Primary School where the demand of starting the road work was made. Dinesh Das, secretary of Sangrami Krishak Sramik Sangha who addressed the meet, said both the forest department and PWD should take the matter seriously and start work at the earliest. As of now, locals take as many as four hours to walk from Garbhanga to Lakhara as the road is not motorable.


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