‘Rasta jaldi banao’ message to NHAI for Assam’s ‘Highway to Hell’
The dilapidated condition of a stretch of the 3,300 km East West Corridor in Assam has led a local politician to compose a video message to Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
The 1 minute 27-second song ‘Road Banao NHAI’ by Daniel Langthasa, a Congress member of the Dima Hasao Autonomous Council in Assam, highlights the condition of the 25-km stretch on NH54 between Jatinga and Harangajao.
“Nitin Gadkari, kabhi aao leke gaadi. Naam maha sadak, dekhne me hai narak. (Nitin Gadkari, come once in a car (and see this road). Named express highway, but looks like hell),” goes the song, which Langthasa posted on Facebook.
It has been viewed 10,000 times since being posted on June 14.
Though the construction on the stretch began in 2011, this stretch has not been completed even after NHAI engaged a second firm Lakshmi Motors in 2017 after JKM Infra was blacklisted for submitting fake bills.
In July 2018, the section got severely damaged due to landslide, hill movement—a month after another portion got washed away due to rains.
“Looking into the gravity of the problem, it has been decided for split four-lane construction (two-lane on a new alignment and two-lane of existing alignment) for the affected section,” Press Information Bureau had said in a release last July.
No work has taken place on the stretch for nearly a year now and at present, the important road, which connects Halflong and Silchar towns, is not motorable by small vehicles. Many motorists have termed it as the Highway to Hell.
“I have been writing songs and after I saw people come out on the streets to protest about the condition of the road I thought it was the right time to bring this to NHAI and the union minister’s notice,” said Langthasa.
He mentions in his song how the road, which is muddy and full of water, gives people body aches and that some even vomit after travelling on it. “Rasta jaldi banao (Construct the road soon),” the song adds.
On Monday, hundreds of residents in Dima Hasao came out with placards and protested on the damaged road urging early construction.
Sensing peoples’ anger, Langthasa warns NHAI at the end of his song. “Theek nahi hoga lekin agar deri karega toh” (The situation could deteriorate if the work gets further delayed).”
That warning may have worked.
On June 18, four days after the song was released online, NHAI published a fresh tender for the completion of the Jatinga-Harangajao road. The project worth nearly Rs 50 crore is to be completed within 12 months.
Despite repeated attempts, NHAI officials were not available for their comments on the issue.