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Roadblock to demand road

Protesters block the road to Mizoram University on Thursday. Telegraph picture

Aizawl, May 29: A joint action committee of Mizoram University blocked the only road that connects the university to Aizawl since 9am today, causing heavy traffic snarls in the area.

The protesters, who burnt copies of an agreement between the Mizoram government and the contractor, Sunshine Overseas Pvt Ltd, vowed to continue the blockade until and unless the government assured them of resuming construction of the Mizoram University road immediately.

The blockade comes a day after minister of state for works Lal Thanzara lashed out at the teaching and non-teaching staff of the university, in retaliation to their news conference in which they accused the state government of neglecting the road.

Work on the 10km road, from Vaivakawn junction to the university, commenced in the later part of 2012, long after funds for the project had been sanctioned, that too only after the university staged a protest, the committee said. Later in 2013, the work was suspended without any concrete reason, prompting the localities along the road to organise a blockade demanding resumption of work, the committee said.

It said the work was again discontinued from May 24 because of unknown reasons. The delay in the road project, according to the joint action committee, was mainly because the company was asked to give priority to other road projects within the city.

It also alleged that owing to pending bills, the contractors were unable to pay for diesel, bitumen and labourers’ wages. This resulted in discontinuation of work.

Refuting the allegations, the minister on Tuesday said the work had been stalled for shortage of labour.

“Most of the labourers were from Jharkhand who went back home before May 15 to attend to their paddy fields. The contractors are currently looking for labourers from Assam tea gardens to replace them. They will hopefully arrive within two-three days,” he said.

Seven kilometres of the total 10km has been completed and the rest will be completed as soon as labourers arrive, the minister has assured.

The protesters said they would even work as labourers for speedy completion of the road.