CHAPTER - VII
(a) OLD TIME TRADE ROUTES :
In olden times, and even up to the time of Independence , there was practically no good or motorable road in the district which is mostly covered by hills. Journeys used to be undertaken along bridle paths and foot tracts. Villages were connected only by thee paths. These also served as internal trade routes and commodities were carried by head- loads along them. These bridle and foot paths were formerly maintained by the villagers themselves in thier respective areas but later on the Government took the responsibility of maintaining a few important paths.
The District GAZETTEER of Cachar mentioned some road links of North Cachar Hills in the following passage : " There is a bridle path from Haflong to the Hot Springs, which is continued through Jowai to Shillong. There are rest houses at the following places ; the figures in brackets show the approximate kilolmetres from Haflong : Gunjong (26) ; Derebara (39) ; Baga (51) ; Khorungma (65) ; Hot Springs (84). From Gunjong there is a bridle path to Doiangmukh (68 km), and from Doiangmukh to the Hot Springs (64). There are no rest houses on either of these paths. From Maibong a bridle path runs to Baldhan, 90 km. away, with rest-houses at Guilong (13kms) , Laishung (28kms) , and Hangrum (42kms) . From Laishung a path strikes eastward to the border of the Naga Hills district 34 kms. away". There is now a motorable road from Haflong to Shillong passing through Gunjong , Hot Springs and Jowai.
Like wise there were also some bridle paths or old time routes in the Karbi Anglong . These were Baithalangso-Amtreng (64kms) , Baithalangso-Umpani (16kms) , Baithalangso- Umbaso (61kms), Baithalangso-Kolonga (19kms), Lanka- Kheroni-Umkherni (64kms), Chapormukh-Amtreng (24kms), Dharambil-Bongaon (26km) , Lanka-Hawaipur (31kms),Daboka-Langlokso (56kms), Dokmoka-Bokuliaghat (64kms) , Mohindijuna- Diphu (26kms), Mohindijuna- Dimapur (66kms), Langlokso-Golaghat (113kms) , Singhashan-pahar to Bokakhat (48kms) and Tarapung to Bokakhat (48kms).
Rivers like the Kopili , Barapani , and Jamuna have also served as important trade routes since the old times. The river Kopili which is navigable by small boats upto Kolanga bazar was an important trade route for carrying up articles like salt , dry fishes, tea leaves and other necessities for the tribal people and sending down cotton, sesamum, mustard seeds, lac and other hill products. The river Barapani was another important trade route connecting important markets like Baithalangso and Amtreng. In some cases commodities were also transported by dug-outs in small streams.
1, B.C. Allen : Assam District geers, Vol. I, Cachar, Calcutta, 1905, 111-12.
(b) ROAD TRANSPORT :
State And National Highways :
There was no good or motorable road in the district prior to its constitution and therefore, much emphasis was given to the construction of roads and bridges in the district during the three Five Year Plans. Perhaps the first road constructed in the district was Shillong- Silchar Road under the Haflong Division of P.W.D. (R&B) which was later on abolished with the completion of the said road. P.W.D. (R&B) Division at Diphu was set up in 1955 with four sub- divisions, two in Karbi Anglong and two in North Cachar Hills. In the later years, Haflong P.W.D. Division was again created with jurisdiction over North Cachar Hills and both the Sub-divisional offices located in North Cachar Hills were transferred to it . The work of buildings, roads and bridges in the areas contiguous to Nowgong district was entrusted by the Government to East and West Divisions of P.W.D. of Nowgong. The total mileage of the roads constructed by the above divisions upto the year of 1964-65 came to 814.35kms. out of which about 17 kms. were 'Black topped', 338 kms.gravelled and 11/2kms. water-bound and the rest were fair-weather roads. Distribution of road mileage as per sub-divisions came to 415 kms. of roads in Karbi Anglong , and 383 kms. of roads in North Cachar Hills. There is only one National Highway 'Numaligarh-Dimapur Road' (National Highway No.39 ) passing through the district. The total mileage of this road is about 116 kms., out of which, only 55 kms. is under the control of Diphu Division. A diversion-road (called diversion of N.H.39 ) between Barpathar and Dimapur comprising total mileage of about 85 kms. is under construction. Followings are the important roads in the district.
Table - 1
STATEMENT SHOWING THE ROADS IN NORTH CACHAR HILLS
| Schools. |
|Name of the roads||Total miles|
|3||Haflong Feeder Road & Hills Station approach road.||4.40|
|4||Haflong Town-fund Road||1.25|
|5||Lower Haflong-Waphu Road.||9.20|
|7||Mahur-Maibong-Kalachand Hajadisha Kaualadisa Road.||51.25|
|8||Khejurband-Langting-Lumding Road (under construction).||47.25|
|Total||248.20 or 383 kms.|
Table - 2
STATEMENT SHOWING THE ROADS IN KARBI ANGLONG
| Schools. |
|Name of the roads||Total miles|
|4||Dokmoka - Sonapur Road||9.00|
|7|| Road to N.E.S. Headquarters including |
bridge over Jamuna River at Howraghat
|8||Bakulighat Link Road||0.75|
|9||Tumpreng -Dokmoka Road||7.00|
|11||Numaligarh Dimapur Road, National Highway 30||34.50|
|12|| Diversion Road between Borpathar and |
Dimapur (Division of N.H. 39 )
|13||Baithalangso-Rongpong Road with Diversion to Umbaso||15.00|
|15||Diphu Town Road||6.26|
|16||Diphu-Dillai Sariahjan Road||6.00|
|17||Diversion of Diphu Mohindijua||0.52|
|Total|| 258.27 or 415 kms. |
The Diphu-Mohindijua road which meets the Dimapur- Mohindijua-Parakhowa-Dokmoka- Dabaka road at a place 16 kms. away from Diphu, makes communication now possible by road to Golaghat sub- division of the Sibsagar district on one side and the district of Nowgong on the other. Stage carriages now ply carrying passengers from Diphu to places lying along these two roads. The Diphu - Mohindijua road has also provided facilities for transport of coal from the new colliery just started at a place called Sibheta, 24 miles (38kms) away from Diphu. The road from Howraghat to Karkok has made the movement and procurement of paddy which is grown in abundance in the region much easier than before. Daily State Transport Service is now available from Nowgong to Diphu and vice-versa. The Diphu-Lumding road will provide the missing overland between the North Cachar Hills and the Parbi Anglong when this road is connected to Mahur-Maibong-Kalachand-Kualadisa road. The road from Mahur to Laisong has brought the Zemi Naga areas nearer to the administration . These two roads in the North Cachar Hills are vitally important for the maintenance of law and order in the border areas where Naga gangsters from Nagaland and Tamenglong sub-division of Manipur State commit loot and arson. Security forces deployed for dealing with these anti-social and anti-State elements can now move with speed, which is the essence of successful operations against them. The Jowai-Haflong -Silchar road connects the Jowai sub-division of the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills and the district of Cachar with the North Cachar Hills . This road passes through a picturesque country presenting a panorama organisation changing vista. State-Transport Buses are playing between Haflong to Shillong and vice-versa. The Nelli-Umpani road has opened up the Amri area to progressive and advanced areas. There is a proposal for extending this road to a place called Musalanchang involving a distance of 25 miles ( 40 kms ). From Musalanchang it will be possible to construct another length of road to meet Shillong near the Polo field. Survey work is already afoot for finding out an alignment for a road to connect Umpani with Baithalangso . The Tumpreng-Donkamokam road and the Baithalangso-Kolonga- Kheroni road have provided the convenience of road communication in the areas where no road existed before. These roads have by no means solved the problem of communication covering all the areas where formerly there was no communication in the district. Many roads building projects are still in blue prints while others are under construction. However, considering the fact that this district was constituted only 15 Years ago with no roads at all, the progress achieved by different agencies in the building of roads is more than encouraging even by a modest assessment.
Village Roads : The District Councils of both the autonomous districts of the Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills have taken up construction of road in their respective areas since their inception. There are in addtion , some other roads in the villages, constructed by villagers from grants recevied from different agencies, but such roads are not many.
Haflong and Diphu are the only towns in the district which serve as main trade centres and other important trade centres are Borpathar ,Bokajan, Dillai, Bokulia, Howraghat ,Tumpreng, Kheroni , Baithalangso, Maibong etc. Most of them are on Public Works Department roads. Th District Council roads connect the villages in the interior with these trade centres either direct or with Public Works Department roads , that ultimately lead to the trade centres.
The condition of the District Council roads is not fit enough for heavy motor trucks, but over some of them light motor vehicles cam ply and over some others only buffalo and bullock carts can move. Work for maintenance of these roads is generally carried out by the District Councils through villages on self-help basis or other agencies when impotant works are involved . There are 273 numbers of village roads comprising a total length of 2681.44 kms.
Vehicles and Conveyances : Nothing definite can be said about the mode of conveyances in old times. But it is believed that elephants, horses and palanquines were mainly used besides small boats at places. However, these were the conveyances of the kings and nobility and the commoners had to walk generally on foot if they want to go from place to place. In plain areas of the district, bullock and buffalo carts were used for transportation of goods. In the hills, these were carried by headloads. As most of the hilly streams are not navigable, boats were very rarely used.
Now for personal and private conveyances jeeps are the only means and officers and businessmen who can afford, have their private jeeps for this purpose. Motor trucks are the principal means of transport of goods over long distance routes in the district ; for short distances, bullock and buffalo carts serve the purpose for transportation of all kinds of commodities and goods. There is no horse - drawn carts in the district. As to beasts of burden, elephants are used in some places and mostly in the extraction of forest timber. Horses are in use only in a small area in the south west portion of the district. Previously there were only a few cycles in the district but with the improvement of the road system, use of cycles has become popular and they are now found in the most interior villages, being used even for carrying small loads of articles by the villagers. The numbers of motor vehicles, bullock carts, cycles etc., in the district are given below
|Years||Cycles||Bullock Carts||Boats||Number of Vehicles on roads|
Public Transport :
As already stated above stage carriages carrying passengers now ply between Diphu and places lying along the new roads. The Diphu-Dobaka and Howraghat Bus Association runs six stage carriages between Diphu and Dabaka and Howraghat. Two stage carriages also run from Diphu to Golaghat touching Dimapur (Nagaland), Bokajan, Sariahjan etc. The Assam State Road Transport Corporation has introduced 2 up and down direct services from Nowgong to Diphu and vice-versa linking the headquarters of the two neighbouring districts with effect from 15th August , 1966. The Corporation is also providing single transport service between Haflong and Jowai, the sub-divisional headquarters U.K. & J.Hills district on every alternative day with effect from 26th Jan.'66. The Jowai-Haflong route is the only nationalised route in North Cachar Hills and as a result of bad conditions of roads, the Corporation charges a bit higher rate as compared to other routes in the State.
The role of road transport in the economic life of the inhabitants of the district is of no small importance. Want of easy road communications made development of the different areas a difficult task. In time of famine, relief reached too late and diseases breaking out in an epidemic form took a heavy toll of life , by the time medical aid become available to the people. Hill products, on which the villager's earnings for livelihood depend, could not be transported timely and fully and for what could be transported by head-loads and other slow means, the villagers could get only very low price. But now with the gradually improved road system the villagers can sell their products nearer their homes and at higher price. This is also helping in creating an urge among them for increasing the production.
(c) Railways :
The portion of North East Frontier Railway which falls into the district of United Mikir & North Cachar Hills comes about 266 kms. in length and connect the Nowgong and Sibsagar district in the north and Cachar district in the south. It comprises Hill section running from Lumding to Badarpur Besides the main line running from Pandu to Dibrugarh. The main line which runs from Pandu to Dibrugarh ; and may be described as the life line of Assam, mainly passes through Karbi Anglong. The important stations on the line falling within the District are Diphu and Bokajan . About a length of 143 kms. of this line is within the District.
The Hill Section which starts from the outer-signal of the Lumding Station, the main junction on the main line, passes through the North Cachar Hills and the important stations of the district touched by this line are Maibong and Lower-Haflong . Only about a length 123 kms. of this line is within the district.
Just after its start from the outer - signal of the Laumding station., the Hill line worms up her way up and down through the dense jungles and mountainous region and bamboo growth, all round the country passing over watershades and depressions or valleys. The alignment everywhere runs through and around various spurs of North Cachar Hills and crosses by means of high banks and viaducts.
The maintenance cost of this section is very high and the cause may safely be attributed to geological formation of the country through which it passes. The formation consists of sandbeds on and between shales, the latter , more crushed and distorted. The sand stone is soft and slightly disintegrates forming a material which flows when saturated in the form of surface slips. The shales disintegrate rapidly on exposure to air and water on their inclined beds when lubricated with water. forming launching-ways for deep seated slips and movements. The whole country is being denuded and the main and side streams are deepening their beds slowly in the areas of the ordinary rainfall and rapidly when the rainfall is excessive.
Various measures are taken to protect the formation of bank against heavy scouring and erosion. They are in the forms of boulder drains, drainage headings, blocks and sausages etc.
There are about 37 tunnels in Hill Section out of which 33 tunnels fall in United Mikir & North Cachar Hills district ; the longest tunnel No.11 is situated in between Daotuhaja and Mahur section between length is 1922/-6// and the shortest tunnel No. 14 is situated between Mahur - Lower Haflong section. The major bridges are mostly on curves.
The project for Railway connecting Brahmaputra Valley with Surma Valley (South-Eastern bengal and the part of Chittagong now in Bangladesh-erstwhile East Pakistan ) was madeby Mr. John Buyers C.I.E. in 1882. The then Consulting Engineer to the Government of India, Sir Guilfor Molesworth accepted the detailed survey in 1887. This scneme consisted of 736 miles (about 1185 kms. ) metre gauge railway running throughout the whole length of Assam and Eastern Bengal from Dibrugarh in the north to Chittagong in the south with branches to Gauhati, Silchar and Chandpur.
On Dibrugarh-Chittagong line, the route lay for 115 miles (about 185 km.) through United Mikir & North Cachar Hills district and Cachar District (from Lumding to Badarpur is now known as Hill section ,) out of which 85 miles (about 137 kms. ) the major portion of Hill section falls in United Mikir & North Cachar Hills District . After the partition of India, the portion of Railway falling beyond mile 135.62 near Mahisasan was given to Pakistan and the remaining potion remained under Government of India. In 1958, N.F. Railway came into existence as separate Railway with its headquarters at Pandu.
The exception of the work was taken in hand in 1892 on the plains and that of Hill section proper during the cold season of 1896-97.
The date of opening of the line for the traffic for different sections is geven below
|Name of the line||Date of opening of the line|
|Badarpur Junction, Damcherra||23.4.1899|
|Badarpur Junction- Katakhal Junction||13.6.1998|
|Katakhal Junction- Silchar||8.11.1898|
|Katakhal Junction- Lalaghat||1923-24|
|Karimganj Junction- Dullabhcherra||Approximately in|
|Baraigram Junction- Kalkalighat||1928-29.|
The railway is the vital link between the neighbouring districts as stated above and plays an important role in the economic and social life of the people inhabiting the area. Prior to Independence there was no other reliable source of communication and transport except the railways. The local agricultural and forest products of the district are exported to various trading centres mainly through railways. It is also the bulk carrier of the passenger traffic. Both goods and passenger traffic are gradually on increase. As stated above, the railway is still the vital means of communication and transport , and there is practically no competition with road transport. Previously there was no road communication with Cachar and Nowgong district through United Mikir & North Cachar Hills district but recently State P.W.D. has constructed some roads connecting this district with Cachar, Nowgong and Sibsagar and in due course railway may have to face competition for transport of local products and passenger traffic.
The names of the railway stations on the both the lines falling within the district are as follows :-
|Name of Stations.|
| 1. Lamsakhang. |
9. Lower Haflong.
10. Haflong Hill.
23. Rangapahar Crossing.
(d) WATERWAYS AND FERRIES :
Most of the rivers and streams in the district being hill streams, there is no regular waterways service for transport in the district. But as stated elsewhere in some of the rivers like the Kopili, Barapani, Jamuna, Kolanga etc. transport of goods and commodities by small country boats touching trade centres such as Howraghat , Kolanga, Kheroni, Tumpreng and Baithalangso etc., is not uncommon.
There is no water way constructed or maintained by the Government . There are some ferries maintained for crossing rivers and streams . The ferries are also used for transporting commodities and goods across these rivers and streams in small boats. The Public Works Department is mainly responsible for maintaining the ferry services across all the important rivers.
(e) TRAVEL AND TOURIST FACILITIES :
There were no rest houses and Dharamasalas in old times in the district. But there is a mention of some rest houses at places like Haflong, Gunjong, Derabara, Baga, Khurungma and Hot springs in the North Cachar Hills in the old District geers of Cachar.
Now there are Inspection Bunglaows, Dak Bunglaows and Rest Houses in the district constructed and maintained by the Public Works Department, Forest Department , Soil Conservation Department, Embankment & Drainage Department and District councils. There are two Circuit Houses located at Diphu and Haflong . Catering facilities are available in both the Circuit Houses and Dak Bungalow at Haflong. In addition there is one well furnished Member's Hostel maintained by the District Council, Karbi Anglong at Diphu. In Inspection Bungalows, there are provisions for furniture and crockery. There is one Chowkidar in each Bunglow who usually does the cooking etc. for the occupants. Following is the list of the Inspection & Dak Bungalows and Rest Houses in the district.
| 1. Mohindijua |
2. Bhitor Kaliani
6. Ram's Bungalow
10. Truky chang
| 17. Gunjong. |
(f) POST AND TELEGRAPHS AND TELEPHONES :
The first regular postal system in the district was introduced during the British regime. The first Post Office was opened at Haflong and other Offices were opened subsequently according to public need and their steady growth has continued since then . The North Cachar Hills was previously under the administrative jurisdiction of the Superintendent of Post Offices, Cachar Division, and the post offices in Karbi Anglong were under the Superintendent of Post Offices, Upper Assam Division, Dibrugarh. But with the creation of a separate division at Tezpur , the United Mikir & North Cachar Hills district was brought under the administration of Tezpur Division. Later on in 1962, with the creation of the Shillong Division, this district was brought under the administration of Shillong Division. In the United Mikir & North Cachar Hills district there are 6 (six) Sub-Offices including two Lower Selection Grade Sub-Offices and 53 Extra Departmental Branch Offices on 15.8.47. From 1962 onwards 10 new offices were opened , one Extra Departmental Branch Office was converted in to a Departmental Combined Sub-office and upgraded to Lower Selection Grade Combined Sub-office. The staff of the offices was also increased accordingly to meet the demand of the public.
The Postal set-up comprises the different classes of Post Offices starting from Branch Offices, Sub- Offices and terminating in the final accounting unit termed as Head Office. The accounts of these Post Offices are finally audited and compiled in the Sub-Audit Offices serving the area and then finally through the Accountant general, Post and Telegraphs (as a part of the accounts of the Government of India ). So far as United Mikir & North Cachar Hills district is concerned, the Post Offices of the different classes, are not , due to the requirements of the cases, under any Head Office situated in the same revenue jurisdiction. Thus the Post Offices are controlled for accunt purposes, by the Silchar Head Office, Kohima Head Office, Jorhat Head Office , Nowgong Head Office, Tura Head Office and Gauhati Head office which lie outside the revenue jurisdiction of the United Mikir & North Cachar Hills district.
The Branch Offices are grouped under convenient Sub/Head Offices with the view to expedite transmission and disposal of mails and also supply and removal of cash. generally the Post Offices in the hills are served by the runners by foot-line daiy except when the post offices are situated far in the interior when the service may be curtailed to weekly, bi-weekly and tri-weekly. Some Post Offices situated at convenient places receive mails directly from the Railway Mail Service and some through Mail Motor Services.
The installing and maintenances of Telegraphs and Telephone lines are controlled by the Engineering Section of the Department who also controls the Phone Exchanges. The inner control of Combined Post & Telegraph Offices rests with the Superintendent of Post Offices. Following are the Post Offices in the district with abbreviations used for words
| 1.Diphu CSO (LSG) |
4.Haflong CSO (LSG)
| LSG - Lower Selection grade |
CSO - Combined Sub- Office
SO - Combined Sub- Office
EDBO - Extra Departmental Branch Office
| 1.Bargaon EDBO |
13.L. Manikpur EDBO
17.Haflong RS EDBO
21.Maulhoi 7 EDBO
| 28.Kolanga EDBO |
Plans for extension of postal facilities : Various schemes are under consideration for expansion of Postal facilities in the district. Proposals have been submitted to the Post Master general, Assam Circle, Shillong, for his approval to open Post Offices at the following places.
Proposals have been also submitted for conversion of the following EDBO into a Deptt. CSO.
Plan for opening up of new Post Offices at the following places are under consideration.
| 1.Kachuphukhuri. |
| 10.Tuaghar. |
The following are the Telegraph offices in the district.
1.Maibong Combined sub-office.
3.Bokajan Combined sub-office.
New Telegraph offices are proposed to be opened at the following places.
A statement showing the number of Telephone Exchanges and connections in the United Mikir & North Cachar Hills district is given in the appendix B of this chapter.
(g) TRANSPORT OWNER'S ORGANISATION :
There is only one transport owner's association , the ' Diphu, Howraghat and Dabaka Bus Association,' which runs buses from Diphu to Howraghat and Dabaka and to other places.