The Meghalaya High Court today said that the Jowai Bypass from Mukhla (Thadlaskein) to Mihmyntdu is in an absolutely abominable condition and passenger vehicles are unable to navigate because of the deep potholes.
“Passenger vehicles are unable to navigate because of the deep potholes and heavy vehicles suffer regular breakdowns, which has resulted in the bypass being altogether abandoned by most of the vehicles going towards Ratacherra and the internal roads in Jowai regularly getting clogged because of heavy vehicles passing through,” the division bench of the High Court observed while hearing a PIL on the matter.
Pulling up the State PWD (Roads) for its failure to repair the Jowai bypass, the High Court said, “It does not appear that apart from discussions and the tea and coffee in between, anything concrete or even remotely bituminous has been done.”
Meanwhile, the petitioner Kynjaimon Amse complained that the ordinary work of filling up the potholes with stone-chips has not been undertaken, though the photographs submitted to the court in the PWD report showed some repair work to have been completed.
The High Court said that the rains or the monsoon cannot be an excuse for a road being reduced to the state that the Jowai Bypass has been “since it is well known that this is one of the wettest places on the earth and the monsoon rains this year have not been any more than previous years; indeed, it has been somewhat less than the average”.
“Now that the monsoon rains are receding, there is no further excuse for the potholes not being attended to and patch-work being undertaken before the more regular surface can be prepared. It may not be out of place to mention that the nature of the Jowai Bypass, the excuses proffered and the continuing expenses for the upkeep of the road indicates some other nexus that may not be conducive either to the proper maintenance of the road or in larger public interest,” the High Court added.
The court also directed the Secretary of the PWD to personally visit the site and ensure that the major potholes are filled up within the next fortnight and patch-work undertaken such that at least the heavy vehicles do not suffer breakdowns or are tempted to take the longer route through Jowai town by avoiding the bypass.
As far as the stretch from Mihmyntdu to Ratacherra through Khliehriat is concerned, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) informed the High Court that the problem area is only at and around the Sonapur tunnel and apart from such stretch, which is prone to landslides and water logging particularly during monsoon, the rest of the stretch has been repaired and potholes that develop due to the rains are being attended to on a regular basis.