Nagaland: Problems continue to besiege NH-29 four-lane Package III construction

In this photo taken October 2022, vehicles are seen plying on one side of the ongoing four-lane construction near Peducha, while on the other side, a small rivulet is formed. So far contracts of two contractors under the Package-III have been terminated by the NHIDCL for various reasons. (Morung File Photo)

•    Contracts of second contractor ‘terminated’
•    HC directs NHIDCL to deliberate alternative 

Morung Express News
Dimapur/Kohima | December 15 

The ongoing four-lane construction of the National Highway-29 Package-III continues to be besieged with problems and other challenges with the termination of the works of second contractor and viable alternative so far. 

The progress of the Package-III of the four-lane project roughly covering the Piphema to Jotsoma stretch (Design Km 152.490 to Km 166.700) has been “totally hampered” as of now, necessitating another intervention by the Guwahati High Court, Kohima Bench on December 14, while resuming the hearing of interlocutory application related to an ongoing sou motu public interest litigation on NH-29 four-lane project.

The Court has to intervene into the matter as the progress of Package-III has been ‘totally hampered due to abandonment of the work by the contractor (Oasis Techno Construction Ltd) and the subsequent termination of the contract by the NHIDCL authorities,’ observed the Division Bench of Justices LS Jamir and Songkhupchung Serto.

Accordingly, in view of the public interest involved, the Bench directed the NHIDCL and the contractor of Package I&II (M/S RAMKY-ECI JV) to have a “deliberation over the matter” as to whether the latter would be willing to take up the Package-III after necessary modifications in the DPR (Detailed Project Report), listing the matter for further hearing on December 19. 

The Bench arrived at the decision after the counsel for National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) submitted that if it is ‘to proceed in terms of the procedures,’ it would take some time.

After finalisation of the same, the working period i.e. dry season would be over and therefore, a considerable period of time would lapse which would delay the completion of Package-III, the counsel said.

Meanwhile, the NHIDCL counsel informed that the organisation has engaged another local contractor for maintenance of 2-lane road of Package-III as it was not satisfied by the work done by the earlier contractor. 

He also assured the Court that apart from maintenance of the road, the 2-lane road would be fully completed before March 2023.

He further submitted that the NHIDCL have already issued termination order of the contract, while the amount of Rs 11.2 crore deposited by the contractor on November 30, 2022, has been deposited in an interest bearing fixed deposit account of a nationalised Bank. 

Accordingly, the Courted directed the NHIDCL counsel to file an affidavit enclosing all the relevant documents with regard to the steps taken by the NHIDCL authorities in terms of the order dated October 12, 2022 passed by the Supreme Court with regard to the deposit of the Rs 11.2 crore.

It must be noted here that the Kohima Bench on September 28, has directed the NHIDCL authorities “not to release any pending dues including the Bank Guarantee” to contractor of Package-III of the ongoing National Highway 29 four-lane construction “without the leave of this Court” citing non-completion of work within stipulated time and abandonment of work, among others. 

Further, for “lackadaisical, irresponsible behavior as well as making deliberate false promises on oath before” the Court, the Bench then directed the contractor to liquidate 10% (Rs 12.1 crore) of the total contract amount (Rs 111.19 crore) to the NHIDCL authorities within a period of one month from September 29. The three Directors of the contractor were also directed to appear before the Court. 

The contractor, thereafter, filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court with regard to the September 28 directions but the latter directed for depositing 10% of the contract amount as indicated by the High Court. 

The NHIDCL was further directed to keep the amount   in   an   interest   bearing   fixed deposit   account   of   a  nationalised  Bank with auto renewal facility.

“If the   amount   is   so   deposited,   three Directors   of   the   Company   can   enter appearance   through   a   lawyer   and   their personal   appearance   need   not   be   insisted upon,” added the SC October 12 order.

The contract with Gayatri Projects Ltd (GPL), the first contractor of Package-III was terminated in June 2021. 

This PIL was taken up in 2019 when it came to the knowledge the Court that project which was to be completed in the month of September 2019 has not been completed.