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Sunday, October 1, 2023

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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Road widening: Court tells NHAI, NHIDCL to approach Centre

The court observed that a lot of the other road construction projects are linked to the Shillong-Dawki project, like the identification of necessary bypasses, the need to widen ancillary roads and provide a link to the highway that turns left from Umiam and carries on through Jowai (now bypassed) and Khliehriat into the Barak valley and Silchar.

Shillong:

The High Court of Meghalaya expressed hope that the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) and the National Highways Authorities of India will approach the appropriate Union ministry under which the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism falls and persuade the institute to part with sufficient land for the widening of the road.

The court noted that though the initial grievance of the petitioner pertained to the felling of trees for the construction of a flyover between Rilbong and Jhalupara as part of the Shillong-Dawki road project, the scope of the matter has since been widened to look into the progress of the Shillong-Dawki road, as it is essential not only for connectivity but also for development in the state.

“In particular, there is a serious problem that has arisen with the Indian Institute of Geomagnetism, which has a large tract of land allotted to it to the left of the road as one approaches Upper Shillong from the Rilbong area. Such institute complains that the widening of the road would affect the fragile magnetic records maintained in the institute. However, the problem is that there is no road on the other side and unless the institute agrees to part with some land, there can be no widening of the road on the relevant stretch,” the court stated.

The court observed that a lot of the other road construction projects are linked to the Shillong-Dawki project, like the identification of necessary bypasses, the need to widen ancillary roads and provide a link to the highway that turns left from Umiam and carries on through Jowai (now bypassed) and Khliehriat into the Barak valley and Silchar.

The latest report on the status of the project as on May 24, 2023, revealed that work in respect of packages II and IV of the Shillong-Dawki project, containing five packages in all, is going on in right earnest but the contractors who had been awarded package I and package V have abandoned the work and the re-tender process initially resulted in a solitary bid being received for the package I thought, now, upon at least one further bid being received, the contractor in respect of package I has been identified.

This aspect of the matter is not referred to in the status report but is submitted on behalf of the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL).

It is further submitted on behalf of NHIDCL that there is no progress in the works pertaining to packages number III and V. The several impediments in the work being taken up in respect of such two packages have been detailed in the status report. They are, mainly, due to the local landowners not being willing to part with land or disputes have arisen regarding the area of land necessary and the compensation therefor.

The Court has directed the State government to assist the NHIDCL in resolving the issues pertaining to the acquisition of land and payment of compensation in several other areas.

NHIDCL, however, submitted that since the contractor in respect of package I have been identified and the construction of the Rilbong to Jhalupara flyover falls within such package, the work in such regard may be undertaken expeditiously upon felling the remainder of the trees identified.

Currently, about 63 trees have already been felled, and once the project gets away in right earnest in respect of package I, the remainder of the trees required to be felled may be felled upon planting an adequate number of plants and ensuring their maintenance at least for a period of a year.

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