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MPs seek roads upgrade

- Gadkari assures duo of steps to develop highways

Agartala, July 16: Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari has assured two Lok Sabha MPs from Tripura of a strong initiative to upgrade National Highway 44 and 44 (A).

He told the MPs — Jiten Chowdhury and Sankar Prasad Dutta — that the construction of a second highway between Kukithal in Kailasahar subdivision in North Tripura and Sabroom subdivision in South Tripura via Teliamura would be launched.

The Tripura MPs met Gadkari on Monday and apprised him of the tenuous road transport system within the state and its fragile link by road with the rest of the country.

A memorandum was submitted by the two MPs to Gadkari highlighting the problems. They focussed on the critical condition of the 20km stretch of National Highway 44 between Churaibari in North Tripura and Loarpura in Karimganj district of Assam, which has become practically unusable during monsoon resulting in heavy traffic congestion.

“On paper, the total length of National Highway 44 and 44 (A) is 331km between Sabroom in South Tripura and Churaibari in North Tripura but only 84km of the crucial highway is double lane. The rest is single lane which requires immediate upgrade,” the memorandum said.

It added that in 2005 the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to the state had said a second highway would be constructed linking the state with the rest of the country through Meghalaya, Assam and north Bengal.

Briefing Gadkari on the situation, Chowdhury and Dutta said from October 1, the railway link between Agartala, Silchar and Sabroom would be suspended because of the gauge conversion work between Lumding-Badarpur and Silchar in Assam.

“There is no indication that the metre gauge railway track between Agartala, Silchar and Sabroom will be upgraded to broad gauge simultaneously despite our demands but the suspension of railway service will create tremendous problems of transport in Tripura,” the MPs told Gadkari.

The minister advised the duo to take up with the ministry of railways the issue of simultaneous gauge conversion to and from Tripura.

They also pointed out that the ministry of road transport and highways had to broaden the highway by 1.50 metres and the state had taken an initiative in this regard.

“More than 67 per cent of the land required for the extension has already been acquired though the remaining part is within the reserve forest area and for acquisition in this area we need the permission of the Union ministry of forest and environment,” the MPs pointed out.

Gadkari accepted the demand for a second highway between Kukithal and Sabroom and said funds would not be a constraint for the work.