NHAI opens bypass hour before Election Commission of India announces election dates
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) opened a 10km road that will bypass Islampur — the second most important town in North Dinajpur district — along NH27 on Friday, an hour before the Election Commission of India announced election dates for Bengal and four other states.
Both Trinamul and BJP leaders have claimed credit for the bypass that connects Aliganj with Iluabari, localities on both ends of Islampur.
BJP leaders said their government finished the project and is carrying out four-laning work of NH 27, the principal highway that connects northeast with rest of the country.
Trinamul leaders, on their part, said Mamata Banerjee’s intervention in clearing land hurdles helped the bypass become a reality.
“The project was pending for over 15 years and the bypass is because of her (Mamata),” said Kanaialal Agarwal, North Dinajpur district Trinamul president.
“The bypass was supposed to be inaugurated on Saturday. However, as there were indications that poll dates would be announced on Friday evening and the model code of conduct would immediately come into force, the road was opened for traffic on Friday afternoon,” said an NHAI source.
In North Dinajpur, the bypass was a longstanding demand of residents so that congestion in Islampur town, that has grown on both sides of the highway, would ease. Till now, the entire traffic to Siliguri and beyond would move through the town, choking the roads and causing accidents.
The plan to build the bypass, a part of the east-west corridor project — a four-lane NH27 that would connect Porbandar of Gujarat with Silchar of Assam — was drawn way back in 2003.
But the project suffered for over 15 years over land acquisition snags. In 2016, Mamata took the initiative to clear land hurdles. State tourism minister Gautam Deb was instructed to sit with land-losers and resolve their issues, including that of compensation.
Finally in 2017, work on the bypass commenced on the outskirts of Islampur.
Residents and transporters are elated. Plabon Pramanik, Uttar Dinajpur Bus & Minibus Owners’ Association, said his buses would take 90 minutes to cross Islampur town. “Now with the bypass, trucks and other vehicles which do not need to enter the town will use this alternative,” he said.