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Team on corridor recce

- CRRI to suggest landslip-protection measures

Guwahati, June 18: A team from the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) in New Delhi will conduct studies on a landslide-prone stretch of the under-construction East-West Corridor in Dima Hasao district and suggest remedies.

The team will visit the area tomorrow.

An official of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), which is tasked with the project, said the team would carry out various studies, including soil investigation and suggest measures that will ensure the road surface is safe.

“Certain points along an approximately 20km stretch are susceptible to landslides and we need to put protection measures in place,” the official, who did not wish to be named, said. “The CRRI team will suggest the measures,” he added.

The official said the soil in the area, which is hilly, is not stable and given that both road building and broad gauge track-laying activities are under way simultaneously, some disturbance could be caused in the soil, which may trigger the landslides. “These are not rocky mountains, hence the occurrence of landslides is not uncommon,” he said.

Asked why the road research team was being brought in after the construction had started, the official said it was not possible to anticipate all problems at the start of a project of such nature and magnitude. “Certain measures are already in place but as work goes on, we may encounter some new problems and accordingly remedial action has to be initiated,” he said. “It is not like building a house on a small plot of land.”

The CRRI is the premier national research organisation for highways traffic and transport planning and related aspects. Established in 1952 as a constituent laboratory of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the institute carries out research and development on road and road transportation and provides consultancy.

Earlier this month, the North East India Sampark Cell of the BJP wrote to the Union minister for road transport, highways and shipping, Nitin Gadkari, seeking his direction to the NHAI for time-bound completion of the 400km Silchar-Guwahati stretch of the East-West Corridor connecting Silchar in south Assam and Saurashtra in Gujarat. In Assam, the entire length of the corridor is 670km from Srirampur on the Assam-Bengal border in Kokrajhar district to Silchar.

Dhrubendu Shekhar Bhattacharya, pradesh convener, Assam, of the cell, said in his letter that it was “shocking” that a 400km road could not be completed in 15 years. The project was started in 1999 during the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee government at the Centre.

“The progress of this project specifically in the stretch between Silchar and Guwahati has been so pathetic that only three out of the total 17 sections have been completed,” the letter pointed out, while alleging “it had become a money-making machine for many”.

Bhattacharya told The Telegraph that he had visited the stretch, which the CRRI would study, and found the workmanship was not up to the mark at some places. “I scooped out lumps from the road with my bare hands... these just came off,” he said. “If this is the quality of construction then forget about vehicles, I doubt whether the road can even bear the weight of my son’s small bicycle,” he said, somewhat in jest but illustrating the gravity of the situation.

As for the project’s progress, the NHAI official said the Guwahati-Lumding stretch was almost complete while the Lumding-Silchar stretch is now scheduled for completion by March-June next year.