Life in the Fast Lane Neiphiu Rio, 61
Most improved small state
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.