HC directs completion of NH-2 connecting Nagaland-Manipur by May-end
NH-2 connecting Nagaland and Manipur

Kohima: The Gauhati High Court Kohima bench, on Monday, directed contractors undertaking the upgradation work of the National Highway-2 connecting Nagaland with Manipur, to complete the road construction by May-end as work completion misses another deadline.  

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (Suo Moto), the bench comprising Justice Lanusungkum Jamir and Justice Kakheto Sema, ordered contractor M/S Fortune Groups to complete the long overdue project by May 30, 2023.

If the work is not completed during the specified time, the Court said that a notice would be issued by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) to blacklist the contractors.

The date extension was also made on the condition that if the work is not completed on time, substantial costs would be imposed. The Court also directed that work should be completed without any compromise on the quality of work and that construction of work is done as per the existing Right of Way (ROW).

In the last court hearing, the respondents, through an affidavit had claimed that minute assessment on the non-availability of the required width of 12 metres on one hand and standing impediments and obstructions on the other hand, as per its survey on February 24, 2023, has made it “next to impossible physically and technically” complete the work by March 31 which was expected by the court.

Notably, the work for the upgradation of the existing road to 2-lane with paved shoulder from Kohima (Nagaland) to Mao (Manipur) covering 26.249 KM was awarded to Fortune Groups on September 30, 2020, at a sanctioned cost of Rs 315.63 crore as per NHIDCL.

The work which began on November 20, 2020, was targeted for completion by April 22, 2022, as per the contract.

However, since the work on the ground did not get started, the Court took up the matter on Suo Moto on March 2, 2022, stating that the only highway, also known as the Trans Asian Highway, connecting the two states is in a “deplorable condition”.

After a few hearings, the authority engineer and the contractors informed the court that the project would be completed by March 2023. Despite the extended time, work completion for the project missed the deadline.

During Monday’s hearing, the Court questioned the contractors for “playing with the public” by delaying work even after “sufficient time” was granted.  

On the non-payment of bills to contractors since December 2022, the NHIDCL told the court that an amount of Rs 23 crore was released and a bill of Rs 3.3 crore which was raised by the contractors in February is under verification.

The awarded cost of the project, at the time of writing this report, was Rs 167.23 crore, as per the NHIDCL website.

The next hearing on the matter has been listed for April 12.

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