Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Gauhati High Court issues notice on PIL contending usage of NABARD fund

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The Gauhati High Court issued notice on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed contending that by a letter dated 12.02.2020, written to the Principal Secretary Finance, Planning & Investment, Government of Arunachal Pradesh, by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) an amount of Rs. 3960.78 lakhs was sanctioned for “Improvement and upgradation of road from Yangte to Tali ADC HQ upto Kumey bridge point (42.00 Km)”.

Out of the aforesaid total sanctioned amount, an administrative approval for Rs. 220.00 lakhs was granted by an order dated 15.03.2021, issued by the Commissioner, Public Works Department for which, work order was issued to the private respondent pursuant to which, private respondent has executed the work for the present sanctioned amount of Rs. 220 lakhs.

The petitioner (Tacho Dayum) contended that the work done by the private respondent is not in conformity with the Detail Project Report (DPR), prepared by the department and in support thereof a set of photographs have been annexed to the PIL to show that ring culvert has been constructed in the place of concrete RCC culvert; road has been constructed without breast wall and retaining wall and a wooden bridge has been constructed instead of concrete culvert bridge.

In the aforesaid backdrop of the facts, the petitioner contended that there has been not only a compromise on the quality of the work, but, the public funds have been siphoned off without properly executing the work in conformity with the DPR. Under the circumstances, the petitioner prays for a direction from the Court to initiate an impartial enquiry.

R. H. Nabam, Additional Advocate General has raised a preliminary objection regarding the maintainability of this PIL contending that this PIL, in its present form and content is not in conformity with the Rules framed by the Gauhati High Court for filing of a PIL.

Having considered the rival contentions advanced by the counsels at the bar and also on perusal of the materials available on record, more particularly, the statement made by the petitioner that the work executed by private respondent is not in conformity with the DPR, and the photographs of the PIL in support of the contentions made, the Itanagar Division Bench of Justice Nani Tagia and Justice Arun Dev Choudhury inclined to issue notice to the respondents.

Upon consideration of the nature of contentions raised and on perusal of the photographs annexed as series to the PIL regarding the nature of work alleged to have been done by the respondent no. 8, the Court directed the respondent authorities, more particularly, Executive Engineer, Public Works Department, Tali Division, to not release the payment to respondent no. 8 for the work “Improvement and upgradation of road from Yangte to Tali ADC HQ upto Kumey bridge point (42.00 Km)”, if not already released.

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