As you are aware, a new highway project has been under construction in India for the last few years. There are two parts to it: The golden quadrilateral which would connect the four metros and the east-west, north-south corridor.
Inevitably, good portions of it would pass through Bihar and Jharkhand also. However, sadly, the alignment of these highways have been so made that they would leave most of the major population centers of Bihar and Jharkhand un-served.
None of the major cities or towns in Bihar and Jharkhand would be connected by the new highways envisaged by the mandarins of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) – not Patna, not Ranchi, not Gaya, Chapra, Bhagalpur, Harazibagh, Bokaro, Dhanbad or Jamshedpur. Muzaffarpur is the exception to prove the rule. Perhaps we, the up country cousins from the “backward” states are considered unfit to be served by such wonders of modern development.
Please see the map of these highways:
I dont know whether it is the a deliberate mischief or just plain colonial mind set that the planners at Delhi seem to have inherited, no thought appears to have gone in making these useful for the people of Bihar and Jharkhand. Our state is a land locked state. These highways are the only means of getting connectivity for our farmers and agro industry producers. Surprisingly, the ‘national’ press, which is always so vocal about the negative stories from Bihar, has chosen to be totally indifferent to this criminal negligence on the part of the national planners. A mention of this has been conspicuous in any media: press or television – by its absence. All the “rudali” types ready to demonise Bihar and Biharis have chosen to ignore this gross injustice .
If we are able to connect the major population centers to these highways, this would bring tremendous benefits to the people of our benighted state. For example, Bihar became food sufficient in 2004 – the only example of a green revolution without any major investment from the government in irrigation or any others. I expect Bihar to become food surplus in a couple of years. Properly aligned roads would be the minimum required to evacuate the food economically or else there would be a glut leading to the agriculturist not getting adequate returns. This would result in demoralisation and the gains that our hardworking farmers have achieved would receive a setback.
The issue is, what can we do about it? I propose a four point agenda:
1. Get a small action committee – five to ten people who feel really passionate about it. This group could get started maybe this weekend and meet every weekend over chat or google talk / yahoo talk. Others would be free to join, but this group takes a real active role in taking this forward.
2. We define what we wish to achieve – say x cities get connected so that we can celebrate we have achieved what we wanted to.
3. Create awareness about the issue by enlisting help from the favourable press – One suggestion is journalists from Bihar, the recent generation who have passed out places like IIMC, Jamia, JNU etc. Other is to present our point of view to decision makers like Road department bureaucrats, planning commision, politicians. We can discuss this more.
4. Use the coming elections in Bihar to extract some promise from decision makers. We still have sometime before the elections and with proper planning, it should be possible to achieve this.
I would like to invite all like minded people to come and join in this fight.