NHDCL to take up Two-Lane NH-102; meeting chaired by MLA Ram Muivah

Ukhrul: A meeting on Ukhrul town bypass of Ukhrul-Talui-Tadubi NH-102A was held on August 17, in the conference hall of Deputy Commissioner’s office, Ukhrul.

The meeting was chaired by Ukhrul MLA Ram Muivah, IAS (Retd.) along with the Headmen and Village Authorities of Hunphun and Hunpung, DC, ADC, SDO/Ukhrul, GM (P), National Highway India Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), and representative of Civil Society Organizations.

As per the reports, the construction of National Highway NH-102A has been delayed due to the objection made by affected land owners.

Stressing on the importance of the construction of two-lane national highway projects Ram Muivah said, “Ukhrul to Imphal road is a lifeline of Ukhrul and also the new NH-102, Ukhrul to Tadubi is another lifeline for us. It is a matter of sadness that Ukhrul’s lifeline has been always in a state of disappearing and terrible shape. When I was in the PWD, in the works department, I tried my best to improve this road. During that time former DC of Ukhrul, Vijay was keen on doing something for Ukhrul road. At that time the road was under BRTF. I still remember we walked most of the time from New Heaven to Ukhrul. We would stop the vehicles at every point. The Colonel, the Commander was Mishra. I remember Vijay saying, “Mr Mishra, you must make this geometrical correction.” He said “Sir I will do it.” Unfortunately, they have a tenure of only two years. After a few months, he got transferred to Jammu and another Mr Sahai came and inspected together but he was not in a dynamic position. He could not make two-lane from Yainganpokpi to Ukhrul at the time. He wanted to do it phase-wise. That was why from Finch-Corner to Ukhrul was taken up.”

Ram continued, “I still remember that day, that year MORTH sanctioned 58 Crore in December 2012. Thereafter they started the double lane but I saw the double lane started only from Finch-Corner to Naga gate, district hospital. The District hospital to Ukhrul road is still a single lane. I don’t know why. Then somehow we managed to upgrade Tadubi to Ukhrul to Tengnoubal NH in 2014, together with the other five roads. All the other five roads have developed double lane except Ukhrul road.”

“Recently in Chandel too, they managed to upgrade it in the same year and date as Ukhrul to Tadubi. Now, Pallel to Chandel is one of the most beautiful and the most comfortable roads. It’s a double lane and the blacktopping is solid, unlike Ukhrul. In Ukhrul, the blacktopping is not even, and there are even muddy drains in between the roads. Ram also mentioned another NH, Churachandpur to Mizoram, that also needs to be upgraded to double lane. Buses are plying, taxis are going every day to Mizoram. The same thing happens to Maram to Peren, Peren to Chumukedima, and Khongsang to Tamenglong. Everywhere, people have double lane road. Though it was declared on the same date, the same year, somehow, I raised this issue in the Assembly,” said Ram Muivah.

“The answer I got was that the delay is on the part of the Land Compensation disbursement from the DC Senapati. NHIDCL has deposited about 71 crore for the widening of road from Tadubi to Pokhra and Tungjoy. But this year, only 20 crore was disbursed. Another 50 plus crores are likely to disburse. That is how the delay took place. Whenever I come to Ukhrul, which is now such a fast-developing town, still has just one road in the middle. Ours is a one-street town. So I desire that we must have a bypass. This bypass road brought today by NHIDCL was proposed when I was in PWD but at that time we kept it in abeyance for some valid reasons. Mr Clark, a Khasi gentleman who was the AC in the Ministry of Transport told me that, if we make the bypass, then they cannot maintain the Ukhrul town road. We cannot have two national highways in the town. That is why we cannot sacrifice the Ukhrul town road for a bypass. That is why it was kept in abeyance.”

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Ram further added, “Now today, Thouthang and Lt Colonel John Cherry told me that both the road will be maintained by NH–Ukhrul town road as well as the bypass. That is why it is a matter of satisfaction. It is good news that National Highway is ready to develop a blacktop road- both the town road as well as the bypass. Bypass is required. Once the Ukhrul road is developed to double lane, there will be lots of vehicles coming from Senapati, Talui, Tadubi, kachai, and Hume. Now when they want to go to Phungyar, kamjong, and Imphal, they don’t need to come to town. They can use the bypass. That is the idea.”

Ram apprised that there is some communication between the stakeholders according to NHIDCL, regarding the alignment. He said, “We must all appreciate and let the engineers do this alignment. Engineers are great to find the best alignment. We are all laymen. We are not trained to find the best alignment. So I seek the cooperation of Hunphun and Hungpung people that what NHIDCL has proposed, let us give serious thought and let Ukhrul town be expanded.”

Ram considered this bypass a good development. “Here I must mention something DC has not mentioned but CM told us. Recently, Govindas went to a meeting for community transport. He was leaving with the Manipur state because the worst performer of the national highway happened to be Manipur, specially Ukhrul & Senapati. So Nitin Gadkari, Hon’ble Minister of Road Transport & Highways of India, told our hon’ble minister if we don’t settle this land compensation quickly, he will be forced to compel to cancel the sanction and the state has to shoulder the road maintenance. God forbid, that should not happen but that’s something of a serious matter. We should take a serious view of the advice of the hon’ble minister Nitin Gadkari. Let us no longer delay because road construction is all EPC (Engineering Procurement Contract). In the engineering procurement contract, the sanction is normally made after the acquisition of the land, payment of compensation, and forest clearance. Then only the road construction would start. It is something urgently required in Manipur and Nagaland. It is a general experience that the roads are delayed due to compensation cases so the EPC was started by one IAS officer. He was a member of the planning commissioner.”

Ram also stated, “I can understand the feeling of the land owners. The majority of the land owners don’t want to give the land for free for road development but in this case, the national highway is ready to pay compensation. It is only the national highway which pays compensation. Land compensation is not available in other schemes. So we must welcome and grab the opportunity. Let us accept land compensation fixed by the revenue department. The revenue department will fix the compensation in consultation with the land owner. Let us be a little broad-minded and have a sacrificial attitude.”

Ram shared based on the universal experience that, ” once the road is widened, the price of your land will be doubled, tripled, even ten times. Rich and famous, good people love to live where there is a wide road. Nobody likes to come where there is a narrow road, where their vehicle cannot pass. Compensation is one time but once the road is good, the benefit is much more.”

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After a threadbare discussion with the stakeholders, it was agreed that:

1) The two-lane highway shall pass from lower Hungdung towards the western side of Ukhrul and end towards the Taluii side at the end of the Ukhrul town. The total length of the bypass road will be approximately 6.2 km in length. There shall be no change in the alignment as proposed by the NHIDCL. No land owners shall obstruct or give hindrance to the construction of two Lane Highway. The civil society with headman and village authorities of Hunphun and Hungpung shall oversee such construction in coordination with the district administration to ensure that the project is completed in time.

2) Affected land owners shall accept compensation calculated against the present market value fixed by the revenue department of the state.

3) The state government shall propose to MORTH for strengthening/ empowerment of the existing NH-102, passing through Ukhrul town by developing Bituminous Concrete (BC) from drain to drain.

4) NHDCL shall take up to propose Ukhrul town bypass on a war footing, keeping in view the importance of the two-lane highway construction.

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