CPO takes Maytas Gayatri JV to court
Hearing on February 27
Kohima, Jan. 30 (EMN): The Chakhesang Public Organisation (CPO) has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) ‘to pursue damage compensation for those whose properties were damaged’ by the construction firm, M/s Maytas-Gayatri (JV) in connection to a two-lane road project.
Announcing the move in a press conference at Hotel Japfu in Kohima on Thursday, the convenor of ‘CPO committee on two-lane road’, Vaprumu Demo informed that the PIL has been filed before the Gauhati High Court, Kohima bench.
According to the convener, the court had admitted the petition as a fit case on January 16 and issued a notice to all the respondents returnable within six weeks. The case has been listed to be heard on February 27, he added.
The case is in relation to the construction of two-lane roads at Longleng-Changtongya; Mon-Tamlu-Merangkong; Phek-Pfutsero; and Zunheboto-Chakhabama, under SARDP-NE (Phase-A) for an amount of INR 1296 crore sanctioned in 2010.
“By 2011, the work was started by the contractor under the direct supervision of PWD (NH), Nagaland; but the joy of people over expected two-lane road soon turned into a nightmare. From day one the contractor, in total disregard of contractual agreement (on designated dumping areas) and public objection, rampantly cut the earth of the steep hills and pushed down all excavated soil, rocks and debris to the valley. This inevitably caused huge avalanche-like situation and massive valued land and properties of the poor and marginalised villagers were destroyed beyond recovery,” said Demo.
He further asserted that “the reckless construction by contractor and total negligence of supervision by implementing authority” brought needless displacement of many human habitations and permanent destruction of massive cultivated and cultivable land.
“… several thousands of families were deprived of livelihood and displaced, many children abandoned their education and many are pitifully depending on BPL rice or charity alone for survival till date,” added the petitioner.
Demo went on to state: “Several precious lives were lost and many others suffered due to accidents while travelling through these dilapidated and dangerous highways.” According to him, ‘these happened right under the nose and silence of the state government and central government alike, with the only narration that people suffering on account of two-lane road constructions need not worry since adequate compensation will be eventually paid to each and every aggrieved member’.
According to the petitioners, the road project was abandoned midway due to an impasse between the firm and the central government over price escalation; and this created more problem than solution to the victims.
“Such abandonment resulted in leaving massive amount of spoils consisting of mud, stones and other debris unattended by the contractor allowing it to flow down during monsoon causing immense devastation to forests, terrace fields, irrigation projects, crops and building properties situated downhill. However in response to widespread public protest, the state government notified all affected districts on 27/02/17 and accordingly respective district administration with concerned departments and local bodies conducted joint spot-verification and damages caused were quantified and amount of compensation against each person was determined,” they stated.
The total amount of compensation claimed by the state government stands at INR 120,99,81,755 for the state as a whole;, and INR 55,12,66,695.34 for Zunheboto-Chakhabama road (under Phek district) and INR 5,81,69,989.70 for Phek-Pfutsero road in particular. ‘But for reason best known to authorities concerned, the outstanding compensation has not been released till date,’ according to the petitioners.
The committee members acknowledged the Supreme Court’s intervention, after which the abandoned road was revived and the work was allotted to NHIDCL. ‘But on other side, the victim community and village authorities were determined not to allow resumption of two-lane road till outstanding damaged compensation was paid to the victims. For nearly 10 years, the victims have waited patiently for their compensation with fading hope each day and they are getting restive over false hope being fed by authorities concerned,’ they stated.
Demo also added: “Failing to address this issue in time would sacrifice the mega project second time and create even law and order situation. It was in this looming instance that CPO intervened by appointing a committee on two-lane road which went to task and subsequently reached understanding with aggrieved community so as to plead court intervention for their pending rights and justice.”