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Oldest road in Garo Hills neglected for decades to turn into double lane

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Tura, Feb 27: A crucial 60 km road linking the hills with the plains of Garo Hills that remained neglected for decades despite being the oldest route and a lifeline for dozens of villages who depended on it for their economic survival is finally getting a major facelift as the foundation gets laid to transform it into a state-of-the-art double lane road.

Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma, laid the foundation to kick start the Rs 132 Crore road project at a glittering function held at Rongram, 15 kms from Tura, on Saturday afternoon.

Present at the launch were Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of PWD department, Prestone Tynsong, Power Minister,  James Pangsang K Sangma, North Tura MLA Thomas A Sangma and Phulbari legislator S G Esmatur Mominin, alongside technocrats and bureaucrats of the state.

The Conrad Sangma’s government aims to upgrade the State Road Network and with this purpose the project was sanctioned to upgrade highway road from single lane to Intermediate lane for smooth traffic movement.

“The project begins now and I have categorically told the company heads doing the work that it has to be completed by December 2022. Money has already been sanctioned and even the machinery has been shipped in to the site,” announced the chief minister.

The 60 Km road sanctioned for Rs.  132, 20,63,500/- (Rupees One Hundred Thirty-Two Crore Twenty Lakh Sixty Three Thousand Five Hundred) starts from 85th Km of NH-51 at Rongram Bazar, passing along the hilly terrain and meeting the AMPT road at Phulbari Town.  The road falls under the State Highway road category, connecting two important towns of West Garo Hills namely Tura and Phulbari.

Conrad Sangma said that the development of infrastructure remains a priority of the MDA government which is why even old projects abandoned by previous governments are being taken up in right earnest.

“There are road projects sanctioned in 2001, 2008 and even 2009 that were abandoned by previous governments. Yet, we have taken it upon ourselves to ensure even these roads are completed with additional channeling of funds from the state. After all, it will benefit the people and lift their economic activity too,” said Sangma.

The 60 km Phulbari-Rongram road will cover over 40 villages, running through areas with high agriculture produce, the road will impact the livelihood of the people apart from their ease of travel. The scope of work include earthwork in road formation, metalling and black topping, cross drainage works, protection walls, traffic signage, etc.

Conrad Sangma expressed dismay over the lack of commitment by previous governments to restoration of this crucial road for years’ altogether.

He commented, “The Rogram-Phulbari Hill road is one of the oldest and crucial roads of West Garo Hills District which provides connectivity to the interior areas of the northern part of the District from the district headquarter”.

Recalling the words of his late father P. A. Sangma, who also experienced travel on the same road, at a time when there was no connectivity between Paikan in Assam to Tura, the Chief Minister said, “My late father used to tell me about this road and its importance. It was his dream to see its restoration. I am happy that our Government has been able to fulfill his dream and that of the people residing in the 40 villages that this road will impact”.

 Highest priority to building road infrastructure in Garo Hills

Chief Minister Conrad Sangma announced that his government has accorded highest priority to building road infrastructure, and in the last three years, invested over 1800 Crores for roads just in Garo Hills alone.

“We will further work towards ensuring that our roads and communication facilities are improved across the State,” he assured the public.

Applauding the MDA Government’s performance, particularly of Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong who is in charge of PWD, the Chief Minister stated, “Prior to 2018, there was poor performance of PMGSY road construction, however, during the current dispensation, there has been tremendous achievement. Currently road construction amounting to Rs. 2800 Crores under PMGSY is underway in the entire State”.

He also asked DC and PWD to continuously monitor and ensure completion of the road by December 2022.

The Deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong told the audience at the event that, “Not less than 1800 Crores in the road sector has been invested by the present Government. From 2013-2018, the then Government were able to pump-in Rs. 700 Cr in the same sector for the region”. Stressing on the importance if the project, he said, “Because this project is so important for the people, the Chief Minister proposed that we should spend it from the State Plan. 139 Crore is no joke but we did it to ensure the people from the hill area and the plain belt of Garo Hills improve their livelihoods”.

Power Minister and legislator of Dadenggre, through which the road passes through, James Pangsan K Sangma spoke of the failure of the previous government to do justice to this crucial road link.

“From 2008, as MLA, I tried to pursue the matter for upgradation of the road. I even raised the issue in the Assembly repeatedly, however, my plea was unheard and turned down. It is because of our able leadership under Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma that our long-pending demand for this road was finally accorded sanction”.

He also appealed to the public to cooperate with the Department and the construction firm to ensure timely completion of the road.

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