‘Killer roads’ and why the BRO is trending in Arunachal panchayat polls

People of Longding district’s Khakam block bordering Myanmar decide to boycott polls unless road construction is entrusted to the Border Roads Organisation

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) found itself dragged into the panchayat elections to be held in Arunachal Pradesh on December 22.

The people of Khakam block in the State’s Longing district bordering Myanmar have threatened to boycott the rural polls unless the BRO is entrusted with the construction and maintenance of all the roads in the area that have become “death traps”.

The All Khakam Students’ Union (AKSU) is leading the “no road no vote” campaign.

According to the union’s president Pauwang Wangsa, the roads across the block are virtually non-existent and have taken taken the lives of many a patient and pregnant women who could not make 30-40 km to a hospital in district headquarters Longding.

“There are four roads connecting five major villages in the block and they have been under construction for 30 years now. The State’s Rural Works Department (RWD) undertook construction in 1981-82 before the Public Works Department took over in 1989. The roads went back to the RWD under PMGSY (Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana) after 2009,” Mr. Wangsa told The Hindu.

Pleas to the State government to complete the projects or at least make the roads worthy of all-terrain vehicles fell on deaf ears, the AKSU said.

“The Khakam area borders Myanmar and is thus an important region for national security. The BRO is the appropriate authority to construct the roads and ensure minimum quality,” Mr. Wangsa said.

The Women’s Welfare Society comprising members from the five villages — Kamhua Noknu, Kamhua Noksa, Khasa, Jagan and Votnu — in the block has backed the vote-boycott call in view of the women “who might have been alive” if the roads were better.

The AKSU said it had written to State Governor B.D. Mishra on November 23 demanding that the roads in Khakam block be handed over to the BRO.


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