Saturday, February 4, 2023

Gauhati High Court constitutes committee to assess ground reality of road construction in Nagaland

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The Gauhati High Court has constituted a committee to have on-the-spot assessment of road construction in Nagaland.

The Kohima Division Bench of Justice Songkhupchung Serto and Justice Kakheto Sema heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) to bring to the notice of the High Court that although, for construction of a road between Lephori to Molhe Camp (26 Kms), the work order was issued to the Construction Agency  on 28.11.2011 and for construction of another road between Akhen to Star Lake (15 Kms) also, work order was issued to the same contractor on 11.04.2011 and, for construction of the road between TO1 to Kanjang (38 Kms), a work order was issued on 21.11.2017 and the required funds were released on 06.03.2017 and 04.10.2018, nothing much has been done on the ground. 

It has been submitted by Sentiyanger,  counsel for the petitioners, that there has been an overlap of 11 Kms between the work covered by the 1st work order and the 2nd work order and 15 Kms between work covered by the 1st work order and the 3rd work order.

He also alleged that though the funds have been withdrawn on the basis of the completion report issued by the Executive Engineer, PWD (respondent No.11), actually, not much work has been done.

In view of the allegation, the respondent No 11 was directed to file an affidavit to make his stand clear. Accordingly, the respondent No.11 has filed an affidavit on29.07.2022 admitting that he had issued the completion certificate but as directed by the Chief Engineer, PWD (R&B), Nagaland.   

Sentiyanger has also submitted that till now, not much progress has been made in the construction of the roads andhe has certificates to that effect issued by the Chairmen of Village Councils of the villages settled along the roads. He placed before the High Court  three certificates issued by three Village Council Chairmen, along with the photographs of the roads. We feel that it would be appropriate if the documents submitted before the High Court by the petitioners are filed along with affidavits. 

The Additional Advocate General, Nagaland submitted that though the work orders were issued much earlier, the funds for the same were released only in 2017 and 2018 and as soon as that was done, the pandemic came, therefore, the work could not be started early. However, as soon as the pandemic improved, the contractor started the work and 90 percent of the work has been completed as of November 1. 

Sentiyanger countered the submission of  the  Additional Advocate General, Nagaland by submitting that the work done so far would not amount to the extent the Additional AdvocateGeneral, Nagaland has submitted. In fact, the work done so far is very less.

In view of the conflicting submissions made by the  counsels, the High Court deemed it fit to constitute a committee to go to the spot to see the ground realities as to whether; there has been overlapping of the works given in the work orders and also to see as to whether there has been progress in the execution of the works and if so, to what extend.   
The  advocates of the Committee shall go to the spot and meet the village councils of the villages settled along the roads or whoever they feel would be able to give the correct information and also see the stretch of the roads and thereafter submit a report on or before the next date of hearing, directed by the High Court.

Further, the High Court  also directed that the Chief Engineer, PWD (R&B) or his representatives along with the Executive Engineer, PWD (R&B) be present on the spot. The expenses of the Committee shall be borne by the Department – PWD (R&B).

Matter is listed on 16.11.2022 for further hearing.

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