ATR issue: PM, Sonia's intervention demanded

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Port Blair, Feb 16: The Andaman and Nicobar Territorial Congress Committee (ANTCC) today demanded the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi in the Andaman Trunk Road (ATR) issue.

ANTCC president Kuldeep Rai Sharma wrote letters to Dr Singh and Mrs Gandhi requesting for retaining the work related to ATR (presently National Highway 223) with Andaman Public Works Department.

The recent move of the Union Government to hand over the nearly 350 km long Andaman Trunk Road to the Border Road Organisation had created a ripple among the people of the islands.

The Congress, which is opposing the move for almost a year, has now come out openly against the transfer of work of maintenance and development of ATR from the Andaman Public Works Department (APWD) to BRO.

ATR, which cuts through the Jarawa tribal reserve of middle Andaman and south Andaman and connects south Andaman with north Andaman, is already in many controversies.

Raising objection over transfer of ATR to BRO, ANTCC president said in his letter that it will not only jeopardize the local economy in terms of direct and indirect employment of this region but also create a negative impression about Congress in the minds of the people of Andaman which otherwise had been traditionally sympathetic to party's ideology.

''It will not be out of context to mention that the decision of entrusting the roadwork of ATR to BRO is unilateral by the Ministry of Surface Transport. The decision is in total disregard to the socio-economic impact on local inhabitants, which we had protested at various forums,'' he added in his letter.

Recently a few top contractors and engineers of these islands had also formed a core group to take up the matter of ministry level for the survival of APWD, which will have to suffer heavy loss if the ATR is transferred to BRO.

''We will have to close down nearly 50 site offices and all the work force will have to be adjusted in other sections, if ATR work goes to BRO, which will be great loss to the government,'' said a senior officer of APWD.


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