Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Building castles in the air

When neighbouring states around are experiencing fast-paced development of infrastructure and economic activities, Dimapur appears to have been grounded as things that should have happened have not happened. For decades the commercial capital of Nagaland has merely existed and no significant effort made to improve the environment so that it could take its rightful place as among the top cities in the north east. Roads linking Dimapur with Assam, till the inter-state check gates are well maintained. However, roads in Dimapur are showing signs of deterioration while national highways in Assam have attained the status of super highways either four-lane or six-lane. Even neighbouring Diphu, the district headquarters of Karbi Anglong appears to be over taking Dimapur in terms of development. Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is determined to transform Karbi Anglong and intentionally or not, it will pose a direct competition with Dimapur. There are plans to transform Diphu and Bokajan railway station with ultra modern facilities with several passenger platforms. The Assam government has shown its determination by bulldozing illegal structure to evict the encroachers without any leniency. Diphu and Bokajan and to an extent Dhansiri stations will soon rise to a much higher level than that of Dimapur. More passenger platforms will mean these railway stations will have stoppage of dozens of long distance trains. Dimapur has two platforms but one cannot have a canopy because there is no space. Though Dimapur is the second highest revenue earner for the Northeast Frontier Railways(NFR) its growth has stagnated for want of land to construct the canopy as well as lay additional rail tracks for stationary passenger trains. A Greenfield airport is to come up at the fringe of Diphu, the official headquarter of Karbi Anglong autonomous district. The airport will fly passengers to Guwahati and could be connected with Dimapur and other airports in the north east. Even in this case, expansion and development of Dimapur airport has been severely hampered by encroachments and allotments of lands near the airport. Due to failure of the state government to tackle this problem, Dimapur airport has been deprived of modernisation. Air passengers emplaning at Dimapur have to walk to board their flight and on rainy days, have to reach the plan on a bus. Since expansion of Dimapur airport could not be done due to lack of area or due to encroachment airports such as Dibgrugarh and Jorhat grew. Dibrugarh airport has two aerobridges and situated over 386 acres and the length of the runway is 7500 feet. Dimapur airport has been reduced to an area of around 300 acres out of the 621.58 acres acquired by the government. Rail connectivity in Nagaland is acutely inadequate to serve the rising number of passengers. Instead, Dimapur railway station is eventually going to be abandoned in terms of development since a double track cannot be constructed due to rampant encroachment. Assam has six airports and others such as a proposed airport at Diphu is underway. The state government since 2003 has shown no interest either in developing Dimapur airport or ensuring eviction of encroachers from railway lands for expansion of facilities. Unless Dimapur is developed, Nagaland will face uphill task in economic development as this requires prioritising objectives based on economic ground realities and not other considerations.

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