Friday, March 2, 2012

Dima Hasao to move Centre against highway firms

Nagaon, March 1: The Dima Hasao Autonomous Council will move Delhi with allegations about non-maintenance of existing roads by the companies engaged in construction of the East-West Corridor.
A council source said today a team from the council would meet senior officials of the Union transport ministry in the second week of March to apprise the latter about how the companies were violating construction guidelines.
This will be the second time the council has raised allegations against the companies since work started on the road project in 2004.
As alleged, companies are not interested in routine maintenance of the existing roads, which are being used to transport construction material on 10-wheeled trucks.
“We have two broken bridges on the existing NH 54(E) and both should be repaired before rains start. The dilapidated highway should also be repaired within the dry season. We have been asking the companies time and again to do so, but they are not at all interested,” the council source said.
A 154km stretch of the corridor runs through the troubled hill district. Construction is divided into seven packages and six construction companies have been engaged. Of the six, two companies — Punj Lloyd Ltd and HCC — are the oldest, being engaged in 2004.
“We have noticed violation of guidelines by the old groups. Punj Lloyd has reached 70 per cent physical progress, but their work is not satisfactory at all. Companies engaged in construction in two packages — Harangajao-Jatinga (AS 21) and Jatinga-Nrimbanglo (AS 22) — are creating hardships for the people by not maintaining the existing roads used by them,” the council source said.
National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) sources, however, said the companies were maintaining the roads and bridges on a routine basis and that there was no apathy or negligence as alleged. “Of the six companies engaged in the district, four are newcomers. After four companies surrendered work because of security reasons three years back, the new companies were entrusted work very recently. The council should give them some time to go about their duties,” an NHAI source said.
The source added that an inquiry would be conducted to ascertain latest maintenance position and companies would be questioned if found guilty.
In 2008, the council moved the Union transport ministry against the companies who had left the district without finishing the construction. The council authorities had asked Union transport minister Kamal Nath to look into the issue, as the companies had left the district leaving the existing national highway in pitiable condition.
The ministry later entrusted the maintenance (with financial support) to the council’s PWD (Maibong division) till the new companies took over. “If they want, we can take charge of the maintenance. But we will not tolerate it if they paralyse road communication till the construction ends,” the council source added.

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