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‘Northeast needs new road making techniques for growth'

Agartala, February 6 (IANS): To ensure enhanced rural connectivity, growth, investment and environmental protection, sustainable new technology must be adopted in road construction in India, specially in the mountainous northeastern region, experts and scientists said here Monday. "New, alternative and superior technologies of road construction - including cold mix, tools using public waste, plastic waste, natural rubber, jute - have to be followed to get the better effect," said P.G. Rao, scientist and director of Assam's Jorhat-based North East Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST).
Rao said: "Around 70 percent of the terrain in the northeast region is mountainous. The region gets very heavy rainfall, ranging from 2,500 mm to 6,000 mm annually, which makes surface communication difficult." "Unlike in the plains, the construction of roads in hilly areas is different, extremely difficult and much more expensive. It is important to innovate and use new technologies for making better roads," Rao told reporters. Rao along with India's renowned scientists, experts and engineers was speaking here Sunday at a workshop-cum-seminar on 'Sustainable Technologies for Road Construction in the North-East'.
They said adoption of new and sustainable technologies would not only ensure enhanced rural connectivity - critical for growth - but also give a much-needed push to the central government-funded Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), which aims to provide connectivity to all rural habitations in a time-bound manner. "Natural rubber modified roads or roads using plastic waste are very useful in terms of longevity and cost," S. Gangopadhyay, director of the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), told reporters after the seminar. He said that cold mix technology is considered greener, safer and facilitates faster roll-out suiting the climatic and terrain conditions of the northeastern region.
Gangopadhyay said: "According to the National Rural Road Development Agency (NRRDA) of the ministry of rural development, road construction and repair work done using hot mix technology is often sub-standard and there is a need to use cold mix for getting a better outcome." The CRRI has developed a separate module for building roads in rural India and northeastern states under its latest 'code 800' scheme to be implemented in the 12th Five Year Plan period (2012-13 to 2016-2017) for covering areas that have population of 800 million people.
"The initial results of some such environment-friendly technologies, including cold mix, in Assam, which has been used to construct more than 1,000 km of roads in the last three years has been good and we are certain that this would encourage the other northeastern states to gain substantial progress and quality of rural and state roads," said P.K. Jain, scientist at the CRRI.

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