Patna: In a rare protest against the abysmal condition of the National Highways 106 and 107, a total shutdown was observed in Bihar’s Madhepura and Saharsa districts of flood-prone Koshi region on Tuesday.
Thousands of people took to streets, staged dharna, marched on feet, cycles and motorcycle to express their anger over the poor condition of the aforesaid highways. The shutdown started on Monday in Madhepura and Saharsa and continued on Tuesday.
The shutdown was not called for by any political party or leaders. It was an outcome of anger boiling within people for months.
“It is a people’s shutdown, first of its kind, against bad roads full of potholes and rough patches. People demand good, safe and secure roads,” said Sandeep Yadav, an activist associated with Koshi Nav Nirman Manch.
All markets, shops, business establishments, private offices, educational institutions remained closed. Vehicles including buses, e-rickshaws and auto-rickshaws were taken off the road to express solidarity with the shutdown and to protest against the pathetic condition of the roads. Doctors’ clinics remained closed too.
“People’s anger has exposed the much-hyped claim of smooth roads by the government led by Nitish Kumar in the state,” Yadav told NewsClick .
He pointed that contrary to repeated propaganda of good roads in the state, hundreds of thousands of people have been suffering due to the condition of the roads in Koshi region for years. Time and again, ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and Janata Dal - United leaders have made promises to construct and repair NH 106 and 107. But, so far, nothing has happened.
Mukesh Mandal, a trader in Saharsa, said that people have been forced to risk their lives with the condition of the roads. “It is enough now, people have decided to protest and agitate till this changes”.
A school teacher, who did not want his name to be revealed, said that in early January this year, the Chief Justice of Patna High Court had taken a suo motu cognisance of the pathetic condition of the NH-106 and had directed the Centre and the state government to file counter affidavits before January 21 with the deadline to complete the construction work of NH 106. But till date, there has been no development.
“Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi had a horrible experience when he travelled on the roads of Madhepura. He had revealed that it took over two hours for him to travel 35 km on NH 106,” he said.