Rough Ride on NH 2 Due to Bureaucratic Misadventure
The Lotha Hoho and the Rengma Hoho has come together and served an ultimatum to the Public Works Department (National Highways) to start the long delayed work of National Highway 2 within fifteen days. The two apex tribal bodies have issued the ultimatum on the 9th of May 2016 and have resolved to block the highway if their demands were not met within that period. This stretch of the highway between Tseminyu and Wokha areas was not repaired for the last 7-8 years, due to litigation between two contractors who had bid for the contracts of extension of NH61 (new NH2) that was advertised way back in July 2010.
The issue arose because one of the bidders failed to mention the offer price in their ‘Form of Bid’ that was submitted with their financial bid and so their bid was considered non-responsive by the officials at first. But later on the officials somehow took up the matter of this particular contractor citing that though the offer price was not mentioned in the ‘Form of Bid’ it was included in the subsequent 'Bill of Quantities' and they had quoted 6 Crores lesser than the rest. The matter reached the Secretary of Road Transport and Highways through the finance wing and the contract was awarded to the contractor who was earlier considered non responsive. The Secretary MoRT&H had dubbed the error as an inadvertent mistake. The matter went to the court and it was heard in the Delhi High Court. Whether it was an inadvertent error or not, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court ruled against the decision of the officials and the judgement was delivered in April 2011. The petitioner had also agreed to execute the work at a lower price i.e. 6 Crores lesser.
Now it is five years since the judgement by the Delhi High Court but the extension of the road is yet to commence. It is one of the main highways of Nagaland State connecting Kohima, Tseminyu, Wokha, Mokokchung upto Jhanji in Assam. It also indirectly connects Pughoboto area and the other parts of Zunheboto district. It is also the nearest road that connects these other districts to Kohima without taking the Assam route.
If only this road was fully extended as envisaged after it was converted into a National Highway and improved upon then the public outbursts for the immediate construction of the foothill road when the state was going through financial crunch would have been avoided. It was fuelled up due to the atrocities committed on travellers going through Assam.
As cited by the tribal bodies, other parts of this same road is being repaired and extended but the work is yet to start in the said sector. There are also reports of exemplary workmanship shown by the contractors in some other sectors in the same highway. What is the issue that the public do not know of, that is stopping the government to begin work in this sector?
From the Court order its is apparent that a bureaucratic misadventure had deprived Nagaland a smooth ride for a long time in its longest highway that directly connects four districts to the state capital and another two districts indirectly. The ultimatum by the two Hohos has to be taken seriously by the government as it pertains to the good of all.