Rankled over the intransigent attitude of officials of the National Highways Authority of India and the ruling Congress party led government towards maintenance of the Nalagarh-Swarghat national highway, hundreds of farmers including Bhartiya Janta Party leaders, industrialists and womenfolk blocked the road in Shobhan Majra village near Panjhera to register their protest on Thursday.
Earlier, the sitting BJP legislator from Nalagarh, KL Thakur, submitted a memorandum to Solan deputy commissioner on the bad condition of the highway and the lackadaisical approach of officials concerned in maintaining the road, urging him take immediate steps to redress the matter failing which the BJP would block vehicular traffic on the highway.
A bumpy stretch on the highway between Nalagarh and Swarghat has been making the journey to Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh unsafe for travellers. Those visiting the industrial area from Bilaspur and other parts of Haryana and Punjab are caught in frequent traffic jams at Chikni Bridge en route to Swarghat and pot holes at several places are posing grave risks to vehicle drivers.
Today's blockade, led by Thakur, was held from 8 am to 1:30 pm with hundreds of villagers including elected representatives of Panchayati Raj institutions taking part in the protest.
"Despite repeated requests the indifferent attitude of the officials concerned is indicative the government's negligent attitude towards the area's problems. Since the bad condition of the road has adversely affected thousands of farmers of the region, besides causing hardship to commuters and tourists, the authorities should be held responsible and the government should initiate the required departmental action at the earliest," Thakur said.
He said the 35 kilometre stretch between Nalagarh and Swarghat should be divided into ten ranges for speedy construction besides ensuring the quality of construction work. He added if the authorities concerned did not initiate measures by December end, a protest 'foot march' from Swaraghat to Nalagarh would be organised.
Addressing the protesters, speaker after speaker held the government responsible for neglecting the area and pledged to intensify their protest till their demands were accepted. The five-hour long blockade was lifted only after NHAI chief engineer Anil Sharma along with executive engineer and Nalagarh SDM Lalit Jain assured the protestors that maintenance work would be completed by the end of March.