In Chhattisgarh, National Highway 30 is not a road, it’s a dirt track.
It runs through the forested Dandakaranya region joining Jagdalpur, the district headquarters of Bastar, with Vijaywada in Andhra Pradesh.
The stretch has necome notorious for a variety of reasons — the Darbha Valley attack that wiped out almost the top Congress leadership in the state and the Tadmetla incident in which 76 CRPF jawans were killed happened on this ‘highway.’
Unsurprisingly, the condition of the highway is a huge issue and both the Congress and the CPI are using it to target the ruling BJP.
The official story goes that since it passes through the Maoist stronghold, no contractor wants to take it up. In working condition till 2010, locals allege that tenders are floated and contractors are assigned but they collude with corrupt officials and do no repair work.
The Sukma-Konta has huge crater-like potholes and mud tracks. “There are no hospitals here and if someone falls ill, we go to Jagdalpur or Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradesh 120 km from here,” said Manu Ram, a local.