Nagaland: 4-laning of NH 29 set to miss completion deadline again

In this file photo a ‘work in progress’ sign is seen along the Chümoukedima to Kohima stretch of NH-29. (Morung File Photo)
In this file photo a ‘work in progress’ sign is seen along the Chümoukedima to Kohima stretch of NH-29. (Morung File Photo)

Morung Express News 
Dimapur | March 27

The completion of Dimapur-Kohima 4-lane (NH-29) project is set to miss the deadline yet again.

The extended deadline for the project within Nagaland was March 31, 2021, as cited by the Minister of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) Nitin Gadkari in reply to a question in Lok Sabha seeking the details of four and six-laning projects approved for North Eastern States during the last three years and their status on March 25. 

At present, while construction activities were going on full-swing, on most stretches, the road was yet to be fully completed.

Analysis of documents on the NHIDCL’s project archives stated that the project status report up to June 1, 2020 showed the “Target date of completion as per contract” by September 2019 for Package I-III. However, a status update on August 31, 2020 by NHIDCL put the target date of completion on March 31, 2021. 

Cumulative physical progresses of work then were 69.24%, 79.30% and 64.59% for Package I, II and III, respectively.
The original completion deadline for 4-laning the Dimapur-Kohima highway was September 2019.

Meanwhile, on December 2, 2020, Nagaland’s lone Lok Sabha Member, Tokheho Yepthomi said that MoRTH Minister Gadkari had conveyed to him the assurance given by the contractors - M/s Ramky – ECI (JV) and M/s Gayatri Projects Ltd to “complete the Dimapur-Kohima 2-lane Black Top by 15th December 2020 and 4 Lane by 31st March 2021.”

“The NHIDCL has taken into account the sudden onset of COVID-19 which has hampered the progress of road works,” added the press statement by the MP. 

“Nevertheless, taking serious view for delay in the Project, NHIDCL has imposed a non-refundable penalty of Rs 1 crore each on the three packages being executed by the contractors,” it added. 

During a review meeting on the ongoing road projects on December 5, 2020 at Raj Bhavan Kohima, Nagaland Governor RN Ravi also expressed “serious displeasure to NHIDCL for not keeping their assurances on the progress of the Kohima-Dimapur 4-lane Highway construction.”

“Although the project was scheduled for completion in August 2019, even after 15 months of overshooting the deadline the completion of the project is not in sight,” the Governor said, according a release from Raj Bhavan. 

He also reminded the NHIDCL how the people of Nagaland have been suffering due to lack of their interests and the Governor is also taking up the matter with the Minister, MoRTH in this regard, it added. 

The issue of regular rockslides on certain sectors was also raised during a review meeting by the Governor on February 11, 2021 where he conveyed displeasure to contractors over  “reckless rock blasting which is the cause of the heavy rock slide” and advised the State government to “explore legal actions and hold the erring contractors accountable.”

The meeting also partially relaxed the total restriction on traffic for commuters from both ways. It was fully lifted on March 24 with certain conditions. 

Ongoing 4-Lane NHIDCL projects in Nagaland
Meanwhile, as per the MoRTH Minister’s March 25 reply, there are currently five ongoing NHIDCL 4-lane projects in Nagaland. It includes three packages covering NH-29 Dimapur-Kohima sector and two others connecting with the highway.. (See Table

The Package-I from Km 123.840 to Km 138.775 was awarded at the cost of Rs 387 crore on September 16, 2016.
As per status report given by the Minister, the ‘Cumulative Physical progress’ of the 14.94 Km stretch under Package-I was 77.77%.

The ‘Cumulative Physical progress’ of  the Package-II (138.775 to Km 152.490 (13.72 km)) awarded at the cost of Rs 339.55 crore was 83.28%. 

It was 71.46% for Package-III from Design Km 152.490 to Km 166.700 (20.68 Km) awarded at a cost of Rs 340 crore. 
The target date of completion of works for all the three packages was given as March 31, 2021.

The NHIDCL has also designated NH-29 as NH-39 and other two packages were construction of connecting NH-39/29 & NH-36 in Assam. 

It included 4/6-laning from Km 132.375 to Km 153.058 (Total New Alignment length of 20.683 Km) of Daboka Dimapur Section (Dimapur Bypass) of NH-39/29 & NH-36 at a cost of Rs 387 crore for which 71.46% has been completed. 

The other is the construction of Dimapur Bypass (Assam Portion) of 4/6 lane pavement “from existing Km 159.400 of NH-36 to existing Km 102.500 of NH-39 and up to end point of Assam portion [Design Km 118.050 to design Km 132.375]” at the cost of Rs 394.39 crore. 

While the former was set to complete works by March 31, the ‘target date of completion’ for the latter is given as November 25, 2022 with cumulative physical progress of 21.25% so far.

NHIDCL officials were unavailable for comments regarding the new deadline for the projects at the time of filing this report.