Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari and Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister TR Zeliang during a review meeting of National Highway projects in the North-East States held at Hotel Redisson Blu, Guwahati, on October 30. (Photo Courtesy: Dy CM Office)
Union Minister indicates 'de-scoping’ of NH portion with land issues
Kohima, October 31 (MExN): A major challenge faced by the implementing agency and contractors undertaking National Highway (NH) projects in Nagaland is the land issue.
Deputy Chief Minister TR Zeliang highlighted this concern to Nitin Jairam Gadkari, the Union Minister for the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), during a review meeting NH projects in the North-East States at Hotel Redisson Blu Guwahati on October 30. Gadkari was accompanied by MoS General VK Singh (Retd).
As per a release from the Deputy CM's office, during the review meeting, Zeliang pointed out that due to the unique landholding system in Nagaland, the State Government has a limited role to intervene, as "every inch of land is either owned by an individual or community."
Accordingly, the State faces difficulties in resolving many land issues.
However, the Deputy CM added that the Nagaland Government is vigorously working on framing State land laws, which will help ease the problems faced at the moment, as per the release.
In response, Gadkari categorically stated that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) is sincerely working to build good roads all over the country, but if land is not made available, there is little that they can do for the development of roads.
To this end, he urged the State Government to come up with a State Law within a couple of months to help resolve the issues.
Otherwise, the Ministry would be compelled to 'de-scope the portion where there are land issues,' and the NH would be handed over and converted to the State Government (NPWD), he reportedly added.
In light of the Union Minister's reply, the release stated that a concerted effort should be taken up by all stakeholders and the State Government to find a solution at the earliest, lest NHs are converted into State highways.
This conversion would result in the severe destabilisation of road construction in the State, due to the poor financial position of the State to undertake any road development projects within its budget, it said.
The Deputy Chief Minister is personally taking up the issue of Land Compensation in the State, likely to be presented at the Cabinet meeting for a final decision to correct some anomalies in the bureaucratic decisions taken in the past, which has deprived the Nagas of claiming Land Compensation, it added.
Meanwhile, Zeliang also raised the issue of rockfall within the Pakala Pahar stretch on NH-29, and the Managing Director NHIDCL has assured that they are working on awarding work for protection and safety measures outside the present scope of work on that package.
He also urged the Union Minister to expedite the completion of all the packages of the 4-Lane road from Dimapur to Kohima, which has been delayed for many years.
The Executive Director NHIDCL Kohima stated that regarding package 4, work has been recently allotted, as the release maintained.
The Deputy Chief Minister also requested the Union Minister to help expedite the sanction of road projects under the Central Road Infrastructure Fund (CRIF) scheme.
However, citing Nagaland’s high Bank of Sanction (BoS) of 10.40, against the permissible limit of 4.00, the Ministry expressed inability to sanction/approve new projects, as per the release.
Nonetheless, the State has taken serious measures to maximise fund utilisation, foreclose projects not progressing for various reasons, and has managed to reduce the BoS to 5.28 from the July 2023 figure of 10.40, the release added.
Zeliang was accompanied by Commissioner & Secretary Kesonyu Yhome, Arenla Jamir, Secretary, Chief Engineer NH (NPWD) Tiameren, Superintending Engineer Aroba, and other NH (NPWD) Engineers.