Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Highway problems

It is a matter of deep concern that the construction of two-lane highway of NH-2 (Old NH-61) from KM 72.40 to KM 83.00 under Wokha district, has taken a turn for the worse as what should have been something to cheer about, has become an unhappy outcome. The construction of the road widening project had come to a standstill since the last two years. That itself is an incredibly long period and it raises questions about the responsibility of the department(highways) and also the district administration. The project has been dogged by a series of issues ranging from land compensation, the failure of the district administration in ensuring the Right of Way (RoW) needed for the work. Also there are serious allegations about how compensation was handled. As per the statement of the Joint Action Committee(JAC) total amount for compensation is Rs.17,79,39,800 while the amount released is Rs. 16,03,62,693 thereby leaving a difference of Rs.1,75,77,107. On this issue, the JAC requested the DC Wokha to clarify the status of the remaining balance of compensation money currently held in the Account of Deputy Commissioner Wokha within a period of seven (7) days with effect from the date of issuing the letter. The issues involving the now halted road construction has compelled the CSOs to press for immediate clarification and rectification of compensation, removal of various obstructions and immediate resumption of work. However since the demands were not met within the specified period, the road bandh took effect from February 8 , two days after expiry of the five-day ultimatum served on the district administration. The DC Wokha subsequently issued a final notice on the contractor- M/s TTC Infra India with registered head office at Tezpur under Assam,to resume work within ten days from the date the notice was issued failing which, action will be taken against the firm. M/s TTC Infra India clarified that as per agreement for the work, the RoW was to be provided and made available to the firm within 30 days of execution of the agreement, but is continues to be delayed. Despite the assurances, the CSOs were unconvinced since the firm had already withdrawn all its machineries from the work site and meant, it wasn’t interested in completing its work. When efforts to resolve the issues proved futile, the indefinite bandh too effect and also leading to lockdown of the office of the Deputy Commissioner Wokha, the Office of SDO(NH)Wokha and restrictions on movement of other vehicles except those exempted under certain categories. The bandh has affected movement of vehicles through Wokha town as well as thrown normal life out of gear. Board examinations for students appearing for the HSLC and HSSLC will not be affected but those attending regular classes will unavoidably be affected in some way. There are also speculations that the firm, like in other projects could be batting for escalation costs and other compensations. The principal player of the episode is the construction firm- M/s TTC Infra India but perhaps there are also other unseen players. Road and other major projects in Nagaland continue to suffer from similar problems for gain and it is time that public take such issues to court in the form of PIL.

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