Nagaland: HC Kohima Bench ‘revives’ PIL on Dimapur-Kohima 4 lane project

Ongoing road construction is visible on National Highway 29 Package- III in this picture taken on April 23, 2024. The work on this section is part of the broader project to complete the four-laning of the highway from Dimapur and Kohima. (Morung File Photo)

Ongoing road construction is visible on National Highway 29 Package- III in this picture taken on April 23, 2024. The work on this section is part of the broader project to complete the four-laning of the highway from Dimapur and Kohima. (Morung File Photo)

Morung Express News
Kohima | May 22

The Gauhati High Court Kohima Bench on May 22 'revived' a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that the Court had taken up regarding the four-laning of the 42.86-kilometre National Highway 29 from Dimapur to Kohima, which had been adjourned sine die on May 10, 2023.

This development followed the adjudication of the Civil Appeal filed by the National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) in the Supreme Court on April 15, against the order passed by the Kohima Bench on March 31, 2023, suggesting the signing of the joint venture by two local contractors for maintaining and completing the remaining stretch of the NH (Package 3).

The NHIDCL had earlier obtained an order from the Supreme Court on May 1, 2023, staying “the effect and operation” of the March 31 order.

Consequently, on May 10, 2023, the Kohima Bench adjourned the PIL sine die, but adding that “the matter shall be taken up on a future date, if so required, at Kohima Bench.”

It must be noted here that the direction of the Bench, the NHIDCL had earlier engaged the local contractor (JV) for maintenance of the two-lane road, particularly in view of the G20 Summit in Kohima in April 2023.

Setting aside the order, the Supreme Court on April 15 directed the NHIDCL to file an affidavit before the High Court, nominating a nodal officer to ensure and be responsible for the completion of the work within time and in accordance with the agreement.

In case of any delay in construction beyond September 2025, the NHIDCL will move an application before the High Court for an extension of time, stating the reasons for the delay, stated the order by the two-judge bench of the apex court comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta.

Accordingly, on May 22, Taka Masa, the Senior Advocate and Amicus Curiae of the case brought to the attention HC Kohima Bench of both the orders April 10, 2023, and May 15 orders.

The counsel for NHIDCL also submitted before the Division Bench of Justice Sanjay Kumar Medhi and Justice Budi Habung that a nodal officer, as directed by the Supreme Court, has already been appointed.

The counsel was granted two weeks to submit an affidavit on the appointments to the Court.

The Court also directed for impleading and inserting the new contractor of the project as a new respondent for proper monitoring of the subject matter of the PIL. 

The Court was also informed that a miscellaneous appeal might be filed in the Supreme Court regarding the April 14 order. Accordingly, it listed the matter for further hearing after three weeks, with direction to apprise on the status of the appeal at the next hearing date.

It must be noted that the Kohima Bench took up a PIL (Suo Moto) on October 18, 2019, after observing that while the construction of the four-lane road of NH-29, which started in 2015 with a stipulated completion time of three years, was unlikely to meet the target.

Divided into three packages, the main challenge lie in Package-III, covering a distance of 14.2 km starting from Piphema to Jotsoma (Design Km 152.490 to Km 166.700), with the termination of two contracts so far.

As per the NHIDCL project status posted on its website, the work for the remaining portion of Package-III is now being undertaken by the new contractor, M/s Brand Eagles, with the appointment date as September 29, 2023, and the “Likely Date of Completion/Actual Date of Completion” given as September 28, 2024.