An image of the iconic bridge from the Sadarghat Immersion
From the utility point of view also, this bridge is of immense importance. Apart from connecting the Kumbhirgram airport with Silchar, this bridge connects many areas of Cachar such as Udharbond, Lakhipur etc with the district headquarters. With frequent economic blockades plaguing National Highway 39, the main connecting link to Manipur, this bridge on National Highway 53 is also responsible for the supply of necessary items to Manipur. Many major tea gardens in Cachar such as Daloo and Kumbha also are connected with the rest of the state through this very bridge. Silchar’s connectivity with Haflong and the under construction East – West corridor also depends on this bridge.
The crack that appeared on October 11, 2011
- Photo Courtesy: Dainik Jugashankha
There is no clarity yet on the issue of long term and permanent repair of the bridge. Apparently, an estimate of Rs. Six Crore Sixty Lakh has been sent to the Ministry of National Highways in New Delhi by Dispur, but there is no decision yet on the sanctioning of this amount. The estimate was sent way back in mid 2010, but the centre has been sitting on the proposal. This precisely means that the repair work may not be possible during the upcoming dry months of the winter and then once the long Barak Valley monsoon sets in, it may be difficult to carry out any work with the mighty river in spate.
On the other hand, the unscrupulous leaders of the region are busy gaining political mileage out of the issue while the common man continues to suffer. Assam Minister Gautam Roy has recently declared that the rapid renovation of the bridge is one of his priorities. Silchar MP Kabindra Purkayastha has also claimed that he has spoken to the Union Minister for Highways CP Joshi about the issue. Not to left behind, Silchar MLA Susmita Dev has rushed to Joshi in Delhi with a letter from Udharbond MLA and state minister Ajit Singh.
However, no concrete gains are visible yet. While this sudden spurt in efforts to repair the bridge is welcome, where were these public representatives when the bridge was slowly deteriorating to its present miserable state? Had there been a concerted effort to repair the bridge earlier, the current deadlock would not have occurred.
Moreover, even if the centre releases the required amount immediately we cannot ignore the unfortunate fact that the Assam PWD, notorious for corruption, red tape and non performance, will carry out the repair work. What portion of the sanction will actually be utilised for the repair work is anybody’s guess unless the public turns vigilant and constantly monitors the work.
Repair work in 2009 - Photo Courtesy: The Sentinel