Nagaland: 11 years on, locals still await compensation for road construction

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KOHIMA | Jan 30:

The Guahati High Court will hear the PIL filed by Chakhesang Public Organisation (CPO), a social organisation of Nagaland, claiming compensation for damage done to thousands of 'victims' during the construction of the 2-lane project under the SARDP-NE (Phase-A), on February 27.

Addressing the media today, the 2 lane Committee constituted by the CPO said that the PIL was filed on December last year to claim compensation on behalf of the people whose lands and properties were damaged while widening the roads between Longleng-Changtongya road, Mon-Tamlu-Merangkong road, Phek-Pfütseri road and Zynhevoto Chakhabama road.

Convenor of Committee, Vaprumu Demo informed that the Government of India had sanctioned 4 Projects on 2 -lane road in the year 2009-2010 on the above mentioned stretches and by the end of 2010 M/S Maytas-Gayatri(JV) was awarded the work of 2 laning for an amount of Rs.1296 crores.

By 2011 the work was started by the contractor under direct supervision of PWD (NH), Nagaland. "But the joy of people over forthcoming 2 laning roads soon turned into nightmare," said Demo.

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He alleged that from day one, the contractor, in total disregard of contractual agreement (on designated dumping areas) and public objection, rampantly cut through the steep hills and pushed down all excavated soil, rocks and debits to the valley side. "This inevitably mused huge avalanche like situation and massive valued land and properties of the poor and marginalized villagers were destroyed beyond recovery," he said.

Furthermore, he said that the 'reckless' construction by contractor and total 'negligence' of supervision by the implementing authority brought needless displacement of many human habitations and permanent destruction of massive cultivated and cultivable land above and much worse below the road running down to 8 km, thereby turning vast stretch of habitated and agricultural land into landslide zone and dumping ground.

"Several thousands of families are deprived of livelihood and many migrated elsewhere. Many children abandoned their education and many are pitifully depending on BPL Rice or charity alone for survival till date. Several precious lives were lost and many other suffered due to accident ofl road blockage mile travelling though this dilapidated and dangerous highway," Demo said.

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In the meantime, the abandoned work due to impasse between M/s Maytas-Gaytris (JV) and GOI over price escalation created more problem than solution to the victims.

Complaints were made and 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.

Total amount of compensation claimed by the state government stands at Rs. 120,99,81,755/- for the state as a whole and Rs 55,12,66,695.34/- for Zunheboto-Chakhabama Road (under Phek district) & Rs.5,81,69,989.70/- for Phek-Pfutsero Road in particular. "But for reason best known to authorities concerned the outstanding compensation have not been released till date," said the convenor of the committee.

Demo added that it was only after the Supreme Court's intervention, the abandoned road was revived and the work was allotted to NHIDCL who has started the work on Dec 2019 with a time frame completion of three and half years.

"But on the other side the victims and village authorities were determined not to allow resumption of 2 laning road till outstanding damaged compensation was paid to the victims. Nearly 10 years the victim have waited patiently for their compensation with fading hope each day and they were getting restive over false hope being fed by authorities concerned," he said.

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In view of the delay, the CPO intervened by appointing a committee on 2 lane road, reaching an understanding with aggrieved community, seeking the court's intervention for their pending rights and justice.

It may be mentioned that the PIL was filed on 13 Dec 2019 against the Union of India Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, Nagaland State Government, Regional officer MRTH, Chief Engineer (NER) MRTH, Commissioner and Secretary,Works & Housing Govt.of Nagaland, Chief Engineer(NH) PWD,GON, Managing Director NHIDCL and Extra Assistant Commissioner,Sakraba Phek Nagaland.

Demo informed that notices has been sent to all by the court and they are to reply within 6 weeks and the first hearing of the case is scheduled for 27 February 2020.