The induced slow death of MV Road

Source: The Assam Sentinel, 01 August 2010 (accessed: 10 August 2010).

ITANAGAR, Aug 1: Several remote areas near the international borders that Arunachal share with neighboring countries are still bereft of road communication. Roads were never in existence. In contrary, Vijaynagar in Changlang district had a motorable road connecting it with Miao. For obvious reasons the road, known as MV Road, was induced a slow death time-wrapping Vijaynagar to the early days of civilization.

Inhabitants of Vijaynagar mostly the Yobins, aboriginal Arunachalee tribe and Gorkhalis, who were settled by Government of India during 1961-62, track for 10 days – to and fro – along the dangerous porter tracks to buy essential commodities from Miao, 157 miles away. In contrast to the popular understanding that there was never a road connecting Vijaynagar, there was, in fact, a motorable road till about three decades back.

“After the first administrative set up was made functional in 1962, Miao-Vijaynagar (MV) road was motor-able and four wheelers like jeep used to reach Vijaynagar till 1975. The then Lt. Governor K A A Raja had visited Vijaynagar in a jeep. But after that the maintenance of this road was totally closed for reason unknown. Labors involved in road construction and maintenance was withdrawn by the government and in due course of time the road was totally closed,” informed Phusa Yobin, President of the Yobin Tribe Welfare Committee (YTWC).

The closure of the road has pushed back the natives of the place into the past. According to Phusa, the government subsequently halted the supply of essential commodities through air sorties without citing any reasons.

“Presently FPIs and CPOs in Vijaynagar remain empty…. salt costs us Rs 55 per kg!” lamented Phusa.

Government’s decision to ignore development of the MV Road between 1975 and 1983 is beyond comprehension and baffling in the context of geographical importance of the last border town, Vijaynagar, along the international boundary with Burma. As if depriving the natives of a good road was not sufficient, in subsequent years the government almost made it impossible forever for the road to even exist.

“The little hope of MV road being revived was lost forever once the Namdapha National Park came into being in 1983. Now, the park authorities’ object to even minor maintenance of the road – that has eventually turned into a porter track – as it falls within the reserved park,” Phusa rued.

Was the decision to convert the Namdapha area into a national park already taken by the authorities after the visit of Lt. Governor KAA Raja? Or else what could hold back subsequent governments to ignore strategic border town’s road maintenance? It is surprising that government felt it more important to safeguard wild-lives at the cost of development of aboriginal Yobin tribes and national security.

Lest the state government or the central government changes its policy, this small town with populace of 6000 India citizens including Army personnel and ex-servicemen will have to keep walking like in early days of human civilization. There is a need for governments – centre and state – to revisit the development of MV road beyond the realms of vote-banks politics. After all MV road is not just about 2000 Yobins

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