The Meghalaya High Court has put the onus on the State government to decide as to how it proposes to restore the Borkhat-Sonapur Road in East Jaiñtia Hills which is in a pitiable condition.
The division bench of the court in a hearing held today directed the State government to inform the court on the next date of hearing scheduled on April 20 as to how to restore the Borkhat-Sonapur Road at the earliest, without waiting for funds from the DONER Ministry to arrive.
The order by the High Court followed the fresh affidavit filed by the Secretary, DONER Ministry which informed that the Borkhat-Sonapur Road was not included in the list of 26 projects under the North East Road Sector Development Scheme (NERSDS), being a Central Sector Scheme for development of roads in North-East region.
According to the affidavit, the State government was supposed to send a feedback with regard to funding of the balance amount beyond the available outlay of Rs 62.20 crore lying with North Eastern Council (NEC) during financial year 2020-21, if the Sectoral Empowered Committee (SEC), prioritises one project for sanction during 2020-21, out of the nine projects (including Borkhat-Sonapur Road), which is outside the list of 26 projects where DPRs are readily available with NEC for sanction.
It may be mentioned that on March 30, hundreds of residents from Huroi, Hingaria, Lahalein and Lejri marched from Sonapur road to the office of the Deputy Commissioner in Khliehriat to press for their main demand – construction of the Rymbai-Bataw-Borkhat-Sonapur road, which is around 70km long.
The road which is in a deplorable and muddy condition has been left unattended for many years resulting in severe hardships to the villagers.
On February 18, the Chief Engineer PWD (Roads) had informed the High Court by an affidavit that the Meghalaya government has approved and issued work orders for temporary restoration of Rymbai-Bataw-Borkhat-Sonapur Road worth Rs. 74.33 lakh. The purpose of this project is to make the present dilapidated road temporarily motorable while awaiting for sanction from the DONER Ministry for approval of the road project worth more than Rs 130 crore.
However, villagers felt that temporary repair of the road will only help for a few days and weeks and once the monsoon season sets in again, the problem will remain the same.