Road cutting between Patkai Bridge and Phiphema abruptly stopped over reported “taxation” demand
Morung Express News
Medziphema | June 16
The Dimapur-Kohima NH-29 four-lane road project has encountered a road-block in the form of suspected “taxation” demands from a Naga political group, just months after it began its first phase of road cutting.
According to reports, earth cutting of the NH 29 between Phiphema and Patkai Bridge came to an abrupt halt since Thursday evening after some youth reportedly from a Naga political group appeared on the scene and ordered the earth cutting to be immediately stopped.
National Highway 29 from Kohima to Dimapur under SARDP-NE Phase ‘A’ four- lane, was allotted to ECI Engineering and Construction Company Ltd and Matyas-Gayatri Company under the supervision of the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL).
The stretch of the NH-29 between Patkai Bridge and Phiphema which is around 30 kilometers was allotted to ECI Engineering and Construction Company Ltd, which in turn had sublet the work to the contractors belonging to the Nagaland Constructors and Suppliers Union (NCSU).
Sources engaged in work at the NH-29 said some persons identifying themselves as from the NSCN (IM) came on Thursday around 3:30 pm and ordered them to stop work until further orders from the authorities. After the directive, all work along the highway came to a grinding halt fearing the worst, it was learnt.
On Friday, the stretch of NH-29 between Patkai Bridge and Phiphema bore the same deserted look as the road construction workers awaited further directives for work to commence.
An official of the NCSU on condition of anonymity informed that the issue may be related to demand of tax by the particular Naga political group.
“They are reportedly insisting some amount for the particular stretch of work which we have taken up,” the NCSU official revealed, who however had no idea how much the amount was. He stated that as far as the NCSU (which is a second party to the road project) was concerned, they have not received any demands and therefore the demand may have been directed to ECI.
The NCSU official also pointed out that they were still to receive any bill from the concerned authority for the work which is being carried out.
Despite the alleged demand, the NCSU official said they were determined to continue the earth cutting from Saturday onwards. A work force of around 80 along with 11 earth moving machines, 18 dumpers, 4 JCBs and other machineries are engaged in the road cutting between Patkai Bridge and Phiphema.
There have also been reports, though unconfirmed, that monetary demands have been made to Matyas-Gayatri as well, which looks after the stretch of highway between Phiphema and Kohima.
It may be mentioned that the foundation stone for the 4-lane Dimapur-Kohima highway project for Nagaland was laid by Union Minister for Transport, Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari on November 3, 2015 near Patkai Bridge junction more than a decade after former Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had announced the project.