Life in the Fast Lane Neiphiu Rio, 61

Most im­proved small state

India Today - - THE STATE OF THE STATES - by Kaushik Deka

Manawar Hus­sain, 46, from Bi­har, has been ply­ing on Dima­pur-ko­hima high­way for 27 years work­ing as a driver. Un­til two years ago, no ve­hi­cle he drove lasted more than three years. Things have changed dra­mat­i­cally since 2009. Roads in Na­ga­land are get­ting broader and smoother. Hus­sain earns Rs 15,000 a month now, Rs 5,000 more than what he used to. His run­ning costs have come down too, from Rs 15,000 a year to Rs 10,000. “I en­joy driv­ing on the Dima­pur-ko­hima high­way now,” he says.

Dima­pur, the trade cen­tre of the state, is head­quar­ters of Project Se­wak of the Bor­der Roads Or­gan­i­sa­tion. The project was in­au­gu­rated in 1961 for the de­vel­op­ment of roads in Naga Hills and Tuen­sang ar­eas. Project Se­wak cur­rently has 11 roads in Na­ga­land to­talling 1,198 km un­der its aegis. “Na­ga­land had only 895 km of road when it got state­hood in 1963. To­day, it is about 12,200 km, more than half of which is sur­faced,” says Chief Min­is­ter Neiphiu Rio.

Pri­vate play­ers are slowly join­ing in. In Jan­uary, a 50:50 joint ven­ture be­tween Gay­a­tri Projects Ltd of Hy­der­abad and May­tas In­fra Ltd re­ceived a let­ter of ac­cep­tance to build a 329 km road from Lon­gleng to Chak­abama. The Rs 1,131.67crore project is ex­pected to be com­pleted in 36 months. Ac­cord­ing to the 42nd Quar­terly Sur­vey of Projects In­vest­ment con­ducted by

Projects To­day, as of March 31, 2011, 26 projects worth Rs 2,853 crore were on in the state. Sev­eral ma­jor in­fra­struc­ture projects ei­ther com­pleted or launched in the past few years in­clude com­ple­tion of the Indira Gandhi Sta­dium com­plex in Ko­hima and upgra­da­tion of fa­cil­i­ties at the Re­fer­ral Hos­pi­tal in Dima­pur.

Road-build­ing, how­ever, re­mains the fo­cus. Among the top 10 on­go­ing projects, five re­late to road con­struc­tion. “Im­prove­ment in road com­mu­ni­ca­tion is one of our top­most pri­or­i­ties,” says Na­ga­land Chief Sec­re­tary Lalthara. Land­slides have taken a toll on NH 29, Na­ga­land’s life­line. Lalthara say the govern­ment is ex­plor­ing the idea of de­vel­op­ing two other roads as al­ter­na­tive to the national high­way.

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