News Morung Express
Dimapur | May 11
Gauhati High Court (GHC) Kohima Bench on May 11 imposed a symbolic fine of Rs 2 lakh on the Forfait-I contractor of the ongoing four-lane widening of the National Highway (NH ) 29 between Dimapur and Kohima for slow progress of works.
Earlier on April 20, the divisional bench of Judge Songkhupchung Serto and Judge Nelson Sailo ordered the contractor for Lots I and II (M/s Ramky-ECI, JV) to complete all works within 15 days. , with the exception of the protection of the slope, to be completed by the end of May at the latest.
The direction was given after reviewing submissions made by the Authority’s engineer and the contractor’s attorneys as well as the Crown respondents.
On hearing the case again on May 11 and reviewing the progress of work on lot I&II submitted by the Authority’s Engineer (EA), the Chamber however found that the contractor had not complied with the commitment.
According to the status report, the physical progress of Lot I as of May 8 was 95.08% while for Lot II it was 95.78%.
Accordingly, the Chamber noted that the PIL (Suo Moto) was seized in October 2019 when it came to “our knowledge that the project which was to be completed in the month of September 2019 has not been completed, considering inconveniences and difficulties encountered by commuters.
“Since this PIL was adopted, instruction after instruction has been issued for timely completion of the project and compliance undertakings have also been given by the contractor,” he said.
However, in view of the fact that the contractor failed to meet the commitment made on different occasions, the bench said that “a symbolic fine should be imposed”.
“In view of all this, we deem it necessary to impose a token fine of Rs. 2 Lakh on the Package-I contractor,” he added, further giving instructions to deposit the amount at the Registry no later than the next court date.
The proceeds of the fine will go to an orphanage in rural areas to be identified by the Registry in consultation with the state government’s Social Welfare Department, he added.
The Batch I and II contractor was also asked to file an Affidavit of Project Completion, while the Authority’s engineer was also asked to file a report to that effect, the bench added, listing the case for hearing on June 8.
Extended Package III Timeline
Meanwhile on Lot III the bench on 20th April ordered the contractor (M/s OASIS Projects Ltd) to complete the excavation and black surfacing of the remaining distance (2.45 km) before the start of the rainy season.
However, after going through the affidavit submitted by the AE, he noted that “nothing has progressed much and “there is no progress with respect to the land cuts.
The contractor’s lawyer, however, cited unexpected early rains this year as well as “the short time” taken to remobilize the works “due to a security threat”.
The AE also agreed with the attorney, who added that “all parties involved have met and set a timeline for the project to be completed by January 2023.”
Taka Masa, the Amicus Curiae of PIL, also said that due to the rain it was “obvious that the contractor may not be able to continue the black coating of the two lanes as directed”.
However, he said that a directive could be given to the contractor to maintain the road and also continue to pave the two-lane road, weather permitting.
Taking into account the various submissions, the Panel ordered the Managing Director of OASIS Projects Ltd. to file an affidavit that the project will be completed by January 2023 at the next court date.
To this end, Judge Serto and Judge Sailo further ordered the contractor (Package III) to maintain the road in good condition and continue the black paving of the remaining 2.45 km of the dual carriageway.