OPINION | Sugar coating the coal tar-less misery; Come back to reality!


By Ibankyntiew Mawrie, TNT News |Dec 04, 2017:

It wasn't long ago when Shillong MP and Congress leader Vincent Pala said "no country has better roads than us" when he compared West Khasi Hills highway to Switzerland's roads. As much as we want to accept the MP's claim, the truth however, is always bitter. Welcome to reality!

Pala's comment backfired on him when an organisation highlighted the pathetic condition of the roads through a series of photographs circulated in Whatsapp.

Pictures speak a thousand words – The photographs shared by concerned citizens from across the state highlights the apathy towards the plight of the rural folks. While some roads in the rural areas are left unattended, others cease to exist whereas, sign-boards say otherwise.

In a campaign on roads launched by the Civil Society Women's Organisation (CSWO) along with the People's Mission and the concerned citizens of the State, in social media platforms through the use of photographs, 'All is revealed!"

Recently, while speaking exclusively to TNT-The Northeast Today in Shillong, Pala said "We have the best highways in the whole country" adding that "I have been to Switzerland and other European countries and let me tell you that when you travel the West Khasi Hills roads, it feels like Switzerland and no country has better roads than us."

ALSO READ: Meghalaya's WKH roads are better than Switzerland's roads, says MP Vincent Pala

"Proper road constructions in rural areas are neglected entirely by the PWD (Public Works Department (Roads and Bridges) department of the State of Meghalaya. This neglect has left public in despair and many lives too were lost due to criminal negligence of Government servants, who, though drawing their pay to serve everyone equally yet ignore the people especially in the rural areas," CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing said.

From Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills to Garo Hills, roads in the rural areas are all but the same – the word 'road' for them means a path which is haphazardly cleared, obviously bumpy and dusty – in short 'dirt roads'.

In East Jaintia Hills, the road which falls under the Khliehriat C & RD Block is a trauma for the inhabitants of the villages of Hingaria, Huroi, Lejri, and Lailong. According to Kharshiing, at least three lives were lost along this road, as pregnant women who were taken to nearest Hospital Jowai, which is 100 kms died on the way as it takes more than 5 hours to reach the hospital.

"On visiting some of the roads the CSWO has noticed that the roads are left unattended by the Department, and literally ignored by officials and representatives," Kharshiing added.

Meanwhile, in East Khasi Hills, a PMGSY Road which falls under the Mawkynrew Constituency and Mawkynrew C & RD Block, was given to one Rocky Dhar for construction from 2014 and till date, construction of the same is yet to be completed.

On the other side of the dirt road lies a Village of RngiBah which is, till date, not accessible by road, but the PMGSY Signboard records "From Rngibah to Thangbnai" which is completely misleading.

The only road leading near the village too is in a bad condition which was completely ignored by those paid to oversee the road conditions in these areas.

Roads across the state are no exception. "From West Garo Hills District, South Garo Hills District, West Khasi Hills District, to Ri Bhoi District, South West Khasi Hills District, Plain belts of Garo Hills, East and West Jaintia Hills District, people are left at the mercy of the officials of the PWD, who are meant to take care of the road conditions specifically," she added.

There are also pictures coming in of risky wooden bridges even along NH 62. Karukol Bridge and Siju road which connects with Baghmara NH 62. "People risk through these wooden bridges for years together and this was the only means to ferry essential commodities. In East Jaintia Hills District, Wahluri Bridge in Hingaria roads is also waiting disaster according to the villagers."

Shillong area is no exception. While some parts of the city roads are well-made and maintained, others are being ignored completely and big and wide potholes say it all!

Interestingly, with elections just round the corner, there is a sudden repair of roads which is haphazardly done. All that people can make out of this is 'pretentious development' so well-presented to woo voters — sugar coating the coal tar-less misery.

"Heated tar is being transported in vans leaving the people in danger as the petrol is combustible and can explode anytime. The method of repair also does not meet the standards of maintenance work," asserted the CSWO president.

Crore of rupees are pumped in for development but the only development one sees is the rise in structures of people in Governance, Kharshiing said adding that this neglect by Government servants amounts to a criminal negligence, breach of trust, misuse of public funds, cheating  and the officials concerned should be booked.

"The CSWO will start more campaigns to see Governance in a democracy is carried out in the true spirit and people are not neglected by those in Governance or those representing them," she added.


(The writer can be reached at iban@thenortheasttoday.com and mawrie.iban@gmail.com)