Statesman News Service
Raiganj, 8 July
With a demand for the immediate repair of National Highway 34 from Dalkhola to Itahar, the members of the Uttar Dinajpur Bus & Minibus Owners Association along with the members of West Dinajpur Chamber of Commerce threatened to start a roadblock for an indefinite period. Recently, the members of both associations held a joint meeting in Raiganj of North Dinajpur where this decision was framed. The date for the start of the movement is yet to be fixed up. This subject was brought to the notice of the North Dinajpur District Magistrate too.
The Secretary of UDBMBOA, Mr Ashok Chanda, said: "Around 75 km stretch of the National Highway 34 from Itahar to Dalkhola of North Dinajpur district has remained in bad shape since 2011. Since April this year, rains have started and the surface of the road was washed away in many places. Holes have taken the shape of craters along this stretch. Around 200 buses ply between Siliguri and Raiganj through Dalkhola everyday. Buses, very often, break down as a result of the bad condition of the road. Road mishaps are a daily occurrence."
"The vehicles take around three hours instead of one to reach Dalkhola from Raiganj. The maintenance of vehicles have also risen. As a result, we are incurring losses against our service. Since May this year we organised different movements, including transport strike between Raiganj-Dalkhola routes, demanding immediate repair of the road. But the National Highway Authorities remained silent to our crisis. Hence, we decided to block NH-34 at Siliguri more for an indefinite period in favour of our demand," he said.
The Secretary of West Dinajpur Chamber of Commerce ~ a trade body of both North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur districts ~ Mr Shankar Kundu, said: "Our traders are facing a crisis for importing and exporting of goods because of the bad condition of the road. So we will organise an agitation along with the members of the UDBMBOA."
The District Magistrate of North Dinajpur, Mr P N Bhuitya, said: "We have told the NHAI authorities to repair the road several times but we have not heard from them."
The Project Director of Malda division, Mr Saifulla, said: "Due to infrastructural crisis, the repair work is being delayed. However, we are leaving no stone unturned to start the repair work as soon as possible."