Dimapur-Kohima superhighway gets CCEA’s nod after 10 years
Dimapur, July 25
The most controversial government project in Nagaland in more than 20 years and one of the biggest guns the opposition Congress ever had against the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland government (DAN) – the four-lane highway project between Dimapur and Kohima – can finally go ahead. The project has finally received the green signal for implementation from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), Government of India. The more than 8-year delay in pushing the project ahead was attributed to problems faced by the state government in acquiring land and hindrances from the unique “land acquisition process” of the Nagas.
Originally earmarked as a Rs. 400 crore proposal when announced, the CCEA has approved implementation of the “4-laning” of the Dimapur-Kohima route at a total cost of Rs.1089.87 crore. It is confirmed that the four-lane would start from kilometer 124 to kilometer 172 of NH-39.
This Eastern Mirror reporter received an official media dispatch from a highly-reliable source in the Ministry of Roads & Highways, Government of India, Thursday night, July 25. The dispatch from the ministry shows that the approval of the CCEA for the implementation of the four-lane highway is “final.”
According to the dispatch, ‘the committee on Economic Affairs has approved the implementation of the project of 4-laning of the Dimapur-Kohima section from Km. 124.1 to Km.172.9 of NH-39 (excluding the Dimapur-and-Kohima bypass route) in Nagaland.’ The implementation is sanctioned under the phase ‘A’ of the Special Accelerated Road Development Programme (SARDP-NE) being implemented in the North Eastern Region.
”The total length of the road will be 42.8 km. with total project cost of Rs.1089.87 crore (excluding land acquisition and pre-construction). The concessionaire will make all expenditure to complete the project and will charge the annuity from the government,” the ministry’s media communication states.
The CCEA’s decision is further confirmed by media transcripts of a press conference given by the Finance Minister P Chidambaram between May 23 and May 24 this year in New Delhi. “The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs today approved the implementation of the project of 4-laning of the Dimapur-Kohima section,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram said during proceedings of a press briefing.
The “final approval” of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs comes just three months shy of completing of 10 years to the day the then-Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee announced the four-lane highway. In October 2003 in Kohima, the Bharatiya Janata Party leader had announced Rs. 400 crore for the development of Highway-39 into a four-lane national highway. Vajpayee’s announcement was welcomed by Nagaland with much fanfare.
Little did citizens know that the subsequent years would turn the four-lane highway into one of the most controversial subjects opposition political parties would employ often to charge the Neiphiu Rio-led DAN of corruption, since 2003. Earlier this year also, the Congress Legislature Party had brought up the issue. The Naga People’s Front had then countered the opposition by saying that the highway was still in the NPF’s “manifesto.”
The news dispatch from the source was received late. At the time of filing this news report, former Minister for Roads Kaito Aye (now Home Minister) and present Minister for Roads & Bridges Kuzholuzo Neinu could not be contacted for comments.