The Opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) has threatened to move the CBI to probe the ongoing construction work on four-laning of NH 39 if the NHIDCL fails to “pullup its socks”.

The construction of the National Highway-39 (Dimapur-Kohima road) is being executed by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL).

The Naga People’s Front (NPF) said the people of the state should no longer suffer due to the default of the implementing agency and its appointed contractors.

In a letter to NHIDCL executive director (P) Manmohan Singh Deol, on November 10, Opposition leader TR Zeliang said the highway is turning from bad to worse apparently due to the four-lane construction works.

But no concrete measures have been initiated by the two construction firms, M/s ECI Engineering & Construction Co. Ltd. and M/s Gayatri Projects Ltd., to ease the enormous hardship being faced by commuters on a daily basis while both the state government and the NHIDCL continue to remain mute spectators, Zeliang said.

Zeliang reminded that he had written to NHIDCL earlier concerning the grievances of the public in the state arising out of the ongoing construction works of the road but no tangible result has emerged.

He said as per the contract agreement, it is understood that the two firms are contractually bound to maintain at their own cost the existing two-lane of the highway during the construction period.

However, to the utter dismay of the citizens of the state, it is observed that the same has been overlooked, he stated.

Zeliang pointed out that large muddy puddles, coupled with landslides and rock-falling, occur on the road during summer and dense dust pollution during winter.

He alleged that despite the presence of sanction provision for maintenance of the existing two-lane road, the two firms have failed to comply with the contract agreement.

Zeliang demanded that the NHIDCL immediately direct the contractors to take up maintenance work as per the contract agreement or lease out such works to local contractors so that the matter is addressed accordingly.

The former chief minister said during the tenure of the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland-III government, both the firms had initially agreed to complete the four-lane construction within three years during the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20.

He also the NHIDCL committed to providing a 3% bonus to the two firms in the event of completion of the work before schedule.

He lamented that three years have lapsed since then and there is no sign of completing the work even in 2021.

On the other hand, numerous potholes and sinkages are seen on the newly constructed road at several portions, the National People’s Front leader said.

He asked the NHIDCL to immediately investigate whether the contractors are taking up the works as per specification, including the use of certified quality stone gravels. He also said the pace at which the work is progressing calls for urgent attention as land compensations have been cleared.

Zeliang asked the NHIDCL to clarify its position on the matter in the local dailies, along with details of the agreement period and reasons as to why punitive action has not been initiated against the two construction firms till date.

Alleging that the state government has the least concern for the hardships faced by commuters in the state, he said the state Governor and the Gauhati High Court had to intervene on the matter.

But the contractors under the control of the NHIDCL have failed to adhere to such pressure from the highest office of the state and the Kohima bench of Gauhati High Court, he added.

On November 5, the NHIDCL assured Governor RN Ravi of completing the construction of the highway and other two-lane roads in the state before December 15.

The NHIDCL made the assurance at a meeting called by Ravi to review the ongoing road projects in the state at Raj Bhavan in Kohima.

Ravi asked the contractors to expedite the works and complete them as per their assurance.

At the meeting, the NHIDCL officials pointed to the problems in certain districts, resulting in the halting of the ongoing works. In this connection, the Governor asked the state government to resolve the matter at the earliest.

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com