Stilwell Road Tinsukia
History of Stilwell Road
General Stilwell was a special representative of American President Roosevelt whose headquarters were at Taipha in Hukawang valley of Myanmar beyond the Patkai. General Stilwell was entrusted with the responsibility of attending to the supplies of the Chinese nationalist forces and hence the construction of the Stilwell road we see today. The sole reason was the maintenance of the supply line to China from the Ledo rail head in Assam, the Stilwell road was planned in the year 1942 in February initially from Mogaung on the Myitkyina Railway on the Irrawadi river in the Kachin State of Myanmar (Burma). The project was however, initially named as the Ledo Road.
The responsibility for the strict supervision during the construction of the Stilwell road was endowed on Mr. Lambert IPS, who was posted in February, 1942. Mr. Lambert was actively involved in the planning, construction of the Stilwell Road. He was on special duty here in the area for six long months.
The work on the road started in April, 1942 with an initial length of 1079 miles which is about 1736 kms and then finally completed in the year 1944 in October making a record of completing it in two and a half years. The road successfully connected all important places between Ledo and Kunming. The long road fell in not only one country but in three different countries. Of the entire length of the road, 36 miles (57 kms) fall in India, 646 miles (1040 kms) fall in Myanmar and 397 miles (639 kms) in China.
Maintenance of Stilwell Road
Soon after the construction of the road and after the war, it was to be maintained by the political officer. It was also kept open for civilian usage such as for tourists and general use. However, it was soon abandoned by the Myanmar government and gradually the road became impossible for vehicular traffic due to landslides. The portion between Jairampur and Zero mile that falls under Assam jurisdiction was handed over to the Assam Government for maintenance who in turn handed it over to NEC who again did not pay any attention to it leading to the total devastation of the road. However, the Arunachal Pradesh portion up to the border, which covers around 36 kms. is still however maintained from the administrative and security point of view. But owing to insurgent activities the border was sealed by Government several years back except movement of civilians including the tribals living on the border causing obstruction in their cultural relations and village economy by way of better system of trade with their counterparts.