GUWAHATI: Potholes on roads are fine until they become a matter of public discourse.
Successive governments in the hill state of Nagaland have not cared to build roads or improve their condition. Now, there is a development which will possibly make the Neiphiu Rio government sit up
and take note of.
Under the watch of the state’s coalition government where the BJP is a major constituent, a question on poor roads featured in the Class X English board paper.
The question was based on pictures of two pothole-filled road stretches, a common sight in Nagaland, and the students were asked to write in 120 to 150 words on “poor road condition based on the visual
and data input”. Five marks were allotted against the question.
Clues such as bad roads cause fatal accidents, extensive damage to vehicles, traffic jam etc were given alongside an allegation that low-quality materials were used in the roads’ construction. It was insisted in the question that good roads should be the priority of any government.
Ahivili Zhimomi, a student appearing in the exam, said she was surprised to see the question.
“It is so true about our state. I was happy that I got a chance to give vent to my pent up anger. The condition of the roads in Nagaland is deplorable. There are, in fact, no roads. All that we have are
potholes,” the girl from Dimapur said.
Nasher Chaudaury, another student appearing in the exam, said he too was a bit surprised on seeing the question because “it’s so real in the case of Nagaland”.
Roads are the only mode of transport in the land-locked Nagaland but their condition has not been improved in years. The commercial hub of Dimapur has the worst roads in Nagaland.
Along Longkumer, who is a Dimapur-based writer, said the issue featuring in the question paper reflected public anger.
“That it has now become a subject matter in school education shows the utter disgust felt by everyone,” he said, adding, “I am sure the students will get good marks on this question because even young people know all about corruption and they all have seen how bad the roads are in Nagaland”.
The question has gone viral on social media. Despite the public humiliation, the state government sought to put up a brave face. The state’s Minister for Public Works Department (PWD), Tongpang Ozukum, said it was good that the issue had been highlighted in the exam.
“That’s good. If there is any problem, it should be brought to the notice of the department concerned. So, we should welcome it,” Ozukum said. At the same time, he said the roads have been in bad condition for many years due to funds crunch.
“We have roads under various agencies including PWD of Nagaland but people think all roads belong to the state government. As far as roads under PWD of Nagaland are concerned, we cannot construct
or improve their condition overnight. We have 12,000 plus kilometers of roads under PWD of Nagaland,” Ozukum said.
He said the last monsoon was the worst for Nagaland as the rains and the landslides had damaged a number of roads.
“We are trying to improve them. We have selected 26 roads each in Kohima and Dimapur for improvement with good specification. This is just the beginning. The government stands for change,” he