Complete National Highway-02 between Kohima and Mao Gate or face consequences, warns High Court
Kohima, March 13 (EMN): The Gauhati High Court, Kohima Bench, on Monday extended the deadline for completion of National Highway-02 (NH-02) along Kohima and Mao Gate to the month of May against its earlier timeline of March 31, 2023.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (suo moto) on the delay in upgrading the stretch of road connecting Nagaland and Manipur states, a bench of Justices Lanusungkum Jamir and Kakheto Sema on Monday directed the contractor — M/S Fortune Groups — to complete the work “without compromising on the quality of work” by May 30, 2023.
The court warned that if the contractor does not complete the work within the time frame, ‘substantial cost will be imposed’ and the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (NHIDCL) will be directed to issue a show cause notice to blacklist the contractor.
The matter has been listed for next hearing on April 12.
Meanwhile, the contractor raised the issue of a 25% deduction from the bill by the NHIDCL, to which the latter said deductions are made as per the work done.
On this, the court ordered the NHIDCL not to deduct 25% from the bill submitted by the contractor citing non-achievement of width as per the TCS (typical cross-section).
“No demand for TCS will be made by the NHIDCL to the contractor and the work will be executed on the existing road/ROW (right of way). Any bill submitted by the contractor shall be paid as expeditiously as possible after joint verification by both parties,” read the court order.
It also directed the NHIDCL and the contractor to file their respective affidavits on the progress of work before the next hearing. It also requested the learned Amicus Curiae to have an inspection of the work and file an affidavit before April 12.
Meanwhile, during the hearing which streamed live, the contractor assured the court that 70% to 80% of work will be completed by April end. He added that blacktopping for 12 km of the ongoing reconstruction from Jakhama to Mao gate will be completed before the onset of monsoon.
The NHIDCL informed that it has released INR 23 crore but the contractor had raised a bill of INR 3.3 crore on February 26 which is under verification.
Justice Jamir reprimanded the contractor for “playing around” with the public despite being given “sufficient time”. “We always commute on this road. We see nobody working,” he stated.
Justice Sema also told the contractor that the court, extended deadline is a “grace period”. “You have already crossed the deadline,” Sema said.
The work order for the construction of a two-lane road from Kohima to Mao was issued on October 7, 2022, with a deadline to complete the work on or before April 22, 2022.