Company assures completion of NGH road project by May 15 next
Damra – Bajengdoba road

Resubelpara: The residents of North Garo Hills (NGH) residents are angry over the slow construction of the Damra – Bajengdoba road that passes through the entire district.

The residents said that despite the assurances of the authorities that the 36-km long road would be constructed at the earliest, only 27% of the construction has been done to date. The construction of the road that starts from Damra in Assam and joins Bajengdoba in Meghalaya was started two years back.

The original contract to the road, which was given to Badri Rai & Co, has raised anger amongst the locals over the delay.

Various complaints by local groups and leaders had been made to the deputy commissioner as well as the government, seeking the speedy completion of the road. The complaints even led to the Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma, visiting the site to speak to the contractors.

During the visit, the contractors had promised to complete the road by November 2022. However, the road construction hardly progressed following the visit by the CM, the residents said.

“It generally used to take us an hour to traverse the entire road length between Damra – Bajengdoba as the condition was dilapidated. However, the road has now been opened up through the entire stretch becoming dusty and unhealthy. It has now been 2 years and the people have to suffer,” said a social activist from Resubelpara, Wilness Marak.

Marak questioned the amount of leeway given to the contractor in executing the project in NGH. “Whereas other contractors were given only 2 years for completion, the government and by extension seem to have bent over backwards to provide them extra time,” Marak said.

“This leads us to a serious question as to why the people are being allowed to suffer just to please the contracting company that is concerned with the project. If they can lie to the CM, then what guarantee do we have that the project will be completed on time,” asked Wilness.

The residents and local leader said that despite the dealys and the contactors failing to keep the promise, the PWD department has still not taken any action. As per the contract, the project needed to be completed by the same company that was provided with the project and failing to do so would entail legal action.

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However, the company not only sublet the project but did so twice. Despite the matter coming to light of PWD authorities, no action has been taken against the group. The department confirmed that the project was now being worked on BRC itself.

“Initially there was a problem with stones to be procured for the road. That was solved early this year after a site was approved and all NOCs taken. However, the advent of the monsoon stopped major work from being undertaken. We are sure the project will be completed within the deadline,” said the EE of NGH when contacted.

The EE, however, did not comment on why action was not taken against BRC for the breach of contract.

Despite the assurances by the EE, residents have not been impressed.

“They will not complete this road ever and there is a reason for it. The money for this project has been diverted by the NPP for the Manipur elections last year. Where will the contractor get the money to complete the road,” asked local UDP leader, Balnangh Sangma.

Sangma asserted that the NPP along with the CM had failed the state and made the pitch queer for leaders of Garo Hills to become CM in the coming term.

“Conrad Sangma has overseen thousands of cases of corruption in his 4 and ½ years. They will lie once again that they built roads, infrastructure, etc; but these will never get completed as the money has been diverted. Even Rs 100 crores for the GHADC was diverted into the last Manipur elections. This road will only be taken up seriously if the UDP leads the next government as a single party,” said Balnangh.

“The route is not a long one and should have been completed within a period of 2 years but at the rate they are going, it will possibly take a decade,” said ADE president of NGH, Sandarjiman Momin.

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