From 2020 and still in process Imp-Ukl road stretch

Started sometime in 2020 and the focus and the target seem to be ‘complete it before the Shirui Lily Festival’, which can be held sometime in April or May this year. This is the assurance given by the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) and while the assurance does sound promising, it should not be forgotten that it is already more than two years in the making and two years is  730 days. Thanks to the inspection of Ukhrul AC MLA Ram Muivah and Phungyar AC MLA Leishiyo Keishing, the pathetic road stretch from Yaingangpokpi to Finch Corner on the Imphal-Ukhrul road is now in the news and one hopes it is not a one off event, but is a continuous process, thereby giving out the message that the Government is keeping a close tab on the progress of the road work. Develop the said stretch to a two way highway is the stated objective behind the exercise of digging up and diverting stretches of the road, especially between Litan and the spot known as Mahadev. Just like other roads in Imphal, it is all dust, or to employ a term frequently used here, Uphul-Waiphul at the moment as it is the dry season and once the sky opens up it will be one of mud and sludge or Leikhom-Leinang. This has been the case on one of the most important routes in the State for over two years and note the assurance that completion of the work on the 30.9 kilometre stretch of the road is qualified by the term likely and this is where many more likely questions can be raised. Come April/May and the sky would have started opening up partially and more so in the hill areas and if this happens then what ? Will it be a case of the rain God coming to the rescue of the NHIDCL for here is a ‘legitimate reason’ for not meeting the deadline set ? Ask anyone who has taken the said route more recently and a straight answer on whether the road stretch can be ready by April/May will be hard to come. Or will it be a case of the pandemic coming to the rescue for here is a classic case of a road not being near the stage of completion even after 2 years ? Hilly terrain, the disputes over land acquisition, the question of compensations, land dispute and not to speak of the global pandemic are all factors which may be cited as ‘legitimate reasons’ for the unduly long time for the road work to progress at a satisfying rate but one certainly cannot go on relying on ‘legitimate reasons’ for taking over 2 years to complete converting a single lane road to a two lane one over a road stretch of 30.9 kms.
Covering the 30.9 kilometre stretch of the Imphal-Ukhrul road or from Yaingangpokpi to Finch Corner invariably brings back memories of the late 70s and early 80s when vehicles used to move at a snail’s pace on the Imphal-Ukhrul road. Time was when travelling on this said road meant getting up early and catching the ‘first trip’ bus service at about 6 or 7 am at Imphal and reaching Ukhrul after dusk. Should say something profound that the current road stretch from Yaingangpokpi to Finch Corner brings back such memories, which are not pleasant at all. It is not clear what deadline was set to complete the conversion of the one lane highway to a two lane one, but the time taken has been long, very long and there is no sign that it will be completed soon, despite the ‘before Shirui Lily Festival’ line taken by the NHIDCL. This is the dry season and the question is, is the work progressing at the desired rate ? Regular plus surprise checks may give the right answer and if the people’s representatives are really intent on keeping a tab on the progress of the work, then this may just be needed. A suggestion this is, getting a first hand information from the taxi operators or taxi drivers plying on the Imphal-Ukhrul stretch may give a clearer picture on the work underway. The time to give the push is now for the sky will open up after some time. A close tab is what is needed.