Irked by the dilapidated conditional of National Highway-6 in East Jaintia Hills, the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) East Jaintia Hills District Unit will stage a sit-in demonstration at Khliehriat tomorrow to protest against the failure of the State government and the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to repair the highway.
Informing this today, the KSU said that the agitation will start from 10 am and conclude at 4 pm.
The KSU also appealed to the people of Assam, Mizoram, Tripura and Manipur that commute along the National Highway to cooperate and support the agitation by refraining from travelling along the road from tomorrow from 7 pm to 5 am daily till the end of the week until the demands are met.
However, ambulances, emergency vehicles and vehicles of the armed forces are exempted from the restriction.
It may be mentioned that this is the second round of agitation by the KSU East Jaintia Hills on the issue of National Highway-6.
The first agitation was held on August 8 following which the Manager (Technical) of NHAI had given the assurance to the union that NHAI will repair the highway in the stretch falling under East Jaintia Hills within six weeks. However, till date no action has been taken as per the assurance.
On September 20, the Meghalaya High Court had expressed serious concern over the condition of National Highway-6. “The present condition is totally unacceptable, monsoon or otherwise,” the court said.
The High Court said that in the nearly 2-km stretch of the highway in Khliehriat, local people with fishing rods on the side were “waiting for a spot of rain to allow them to indulge in fishing in the craters along the way”.
“Further down and beyond Khliehriat, the road almost does not exist and there have been repeated complaints by local residents and the district administration and even a committee of MLAs to the NHAI, but to no avail,” the High Court said.
Stating that the local people have complained about the pitiable condition of the highway up to Ratacherra, the High Court has directed the regional head of the NHAI in the North-East to personally visit the site and drive the stretch from Jowai to Ratacherra and file a report to the court, both on the condition of the highway and on the steps that would be taken immediately.
The Members of Parliament (MPs) representing the North East region have also sent a letter to Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari highlighting the pressing need for the repair and widening of National Highway-6, which serves as a vital link connecting Meghalaya with Silchar, Mizoram and Tripura.
MP of Shillong parliamentary seat Vincent Pala along with MPs from Assam, Tripura, and Mizoram also emphasised that the current condition of the highway poses severe inconvenience to the local populace and poses a significant safety hazard.
In their appeal, the implored the Central government to prioritise immediate repairs, encompassing the filling of potholes, restoration of damaged sections, and the implementation of proper road markings and signage to ensure commuter safety.
Given the exponential growth in traffic, the MPs propose the expansion of National Highway-6 to six lanes in order to accommodate the increasing volume of vehicles and facilitate smooth traffic flow.
Further, the MPs requested the Central government to carry out regular and periodic maintenance to ensure the longevity and safety of this indispensable highway.