Finally an RCC bridge on NH-37 Second lifeline
Second lifeline of a State. This is what the Imphal-Jiribam route or National Highway-37 is to Manipur and it is with a feeling of mixed emotions that one welcomes Makru bridge. Happy that the 200 kilometre long National Highway has finally received a bridge understood in the conventional sense and not a stop gap arrangement such as a bailey bridge. And this is how the 200 kms long highway, dotted with bailey bridges has been serving Manipur for over 70 years, ever since Manipur merged with the Union of India in 1949. Welcome Makru bridge and it is only fitting Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari should inaugurate such a bridge. In the process one hopes that the newly inaugurated bridge sets the benchmark for the highway as a whole and not be reduced to a pathway of slush and mud when it rains and dust track when dry season sets in. This is where the State Government will need to tighten its belt and ensure speedy completion of all pending projects. This applies not only to NH-37 but also to the whole State. Attention should now be given to Barak bridge where another concrete RCC bridge is set to come up in place of the bailey bridge. Dotting a National Highway with bailey bridges, that too a route known as the second lifeline of the State and clearly Manipur has missed the bus too many times to carry on like this. This is the 21st century and the it is a shame that even today, goods trucks and other heavy vehicles have to cross innumerable bailey bridges along this said route. For too long the Government, both at Imphal and New Delhi, has been sleeping over the matter and the time now is to wake up and put some action into words and turn NH-37 into a route fit to be called a National Highway. A National Highway dotted with bailey bridges does not exactly fit into the scheme of India’s Act East Policy but this is what the Imphal-Jiribam line is all about. Hopefully the inaugurated Makru bridge will now lay down certain standards.
Apart from easing the movement of goods and people along the highway, the coming up of the bridge should also be seen in the context of how it can benefit the people living by the highway. It is for this very reason, why people who think they control the highway should walk the extra mile to ensure that all developmental works taken up along the highway are allowed to proceed freely without any hindrances. This is important, very important. This is where everyone, particularly those who think they have a control over the highway, should ponder why it has taken this long for Makru bridge to see the light of day. Remember it was back in 2016 that the foundation stone of this bridge along with Barak bridge was laid by the same person who inaugurated Makru bridge today, Nitin Gadkari. Why has it taken so long to build a 122 metre long RCC cement fortified bridge is a question which everyone concerned should ask themselves. With the newly inaugurated bridge as the benchmark, it is also right that focus be given to the whole stretch of the highway and see whether it is in a state worthy of being a National Highway or not. The journey from a highway of bailey bridges to a highway worthy of being called the second lifeline of a State should start from the day Makru bridge was inaugurated. And for this let the Govt reach out to all sections of the people and the transporters who have been braving through this route for decades.