With the winter session of the state assembly set to begin in a few weeks, politicking among legislators over the dilapidated condition the Theogh-Rohru state highway has once again intensified. A day after the Himachal Pradesh High Court ordered a committee to be set up to monitor progress on upgrading the road, the project has become one of the state government's top priorities.
Welcoming the high court directive, the Congress party criticised the BJP for “politicising” the issue. The head of the party's legal department, IN Mehta, hailed the court's decision to take suo moto cognisance of the public interest litigation by keeping the petitioner out of the picture and appointing Jyotsna Rewal Dua and Devender Jeta as amicus curiae to assist the court in the case.
The petition was filed by former state horticulture minister, Narender Bragta, who spearheaded the BJP's 'satyagraha' against the dilapidated condition of the road leading to the apple rich areas of Shimla district. The highway is being widened under a World Bank project for the past the six years and the slow progress of work has led to further deterioration of the road.
Mehta said the high court's decision would benefit residents of the apple belt in Shimla district in. “Petition CWP 7240/2010 filed in the same subject matter is already pending before the high court, which has been clubbed with the present petition,” he added.
Mehta said Bragta along with BJP leaders had launched a protest march from Rohroo to Shimla but it proved to be a complete failure. “The BJP's protest march wasn't successful. The previous BJP regime is responsible for the bad condition of the road as the then government did not take appropriate measures to complete the road during its tenure,” he added.
Mehta said the Congress party after coming into power in Himachal cancelled the tender of a Chinese company as it failed to speed up construction work on the road and instead awarded the tender to Chadha & Chadha Construction Co. “This shows the state government's seriousness about the issue. It has taken adequate steps to complete the work within stipulated time. Further, the state government has ensured smooth transportation of apples during the apple season in 2013 and 2014,” he added.
“Bragta and BJP leaders are politicising the issue to gain political mileage but residents of the area know the reality and the BJP won't succeed in its misleading tactics,” Mehta asserted.