State

CPO files PIL seeking compensation

Correspondent KOHIMA, JAN 30 (NPN) | Publish Date: 1/30/2020 12:26:01 PM IST

In pursuant of the resolution adopted during its executive council meet held on June 29, 2019 “to pursue damage compensation for those whose properties were damaged” by M/s Maytas-Gayatti during construction of two-lane road, Chakhesang Public Organisation (CPO) filed a public interest litigation (PIL) at Gauhati High Court, Kohima Bench on December 13, 2019 seeking justice on behalf of thousands of poor and helpless victims in Nagaland in general and Phek district in particular. This was stated by CPO Committee on 2-lane Road convener Vaprumu Demo at a press conference at Hotel Japfü here on Thursday.  It was also attended by five other members of CPO Committee on 2-lane Road.

The convener said the case was filed by Angshuman Sarma on behalf of CPO and the court had instantly admitted the petition as a fit case on January 16, 2020. Thereafter, notice had been issued to all respondents returnable within six weeks and listed the matter for hearing on February 27.

Sharing details, Demo said M/s Maytas-Gayatri was awarded four projects work of two-lane roads – Longleng-Changtonya road, Mon-Tamlu-Merangkong road, Phek-Ptutsero road and Zunheboto-Chakhahama road – under SARDP-NE (Phase A) worth Rs 1,296 crore in 2010. He said the work started in 2011 under direct supervision of PWD (NH), Nagaland. 

However, he alleged that the joy of people over the two-Iane roads soon turned into a nightmare due to total disregard of contractual agreements (on designated dumping areas) and public objection as the contractor rampantly cut earth of steep hills and pushed down all excavated soil, rocks and debits on valley side, resulting in huge damage of valued land and properties of the poor and marginalised villagers.

Demo regretted that the reckless construction activities by the contractor and lack of supervision by implementing authority led to needless displacement of many human habitations and permanent destruction of massive cultivated as cultivable land became landslide zones and dumping grounds. He claimed that several thousands of families were deprived of livelihood and many migrated elsewhere, while many children gave up their studies and scores now were dependent solely on BPL rice or charity.

The convener said several precious lives were also lost while travelling through this dilapidated and dangerous highway, pointing out that all these happened right under the nose of the Central and State governments. And, in the meantime, the projects were abandoned by the contractor due to impasse with the Centre over price escalation, creating more problems than solution. He said the abandonment resulted in leaving massive amount of spoils consisting of mud, stones and other debris unattended by the contractor that flowed down during monsoon rains, causing immense devastation to forests, terrace fields, irrigation projects, crops and buildings located downhill.

However, in response to widespread public protest, the State government notified all affected districts on February 27, 2017 and accordingly respective district administrations conducted joint spot-verification along with departments and local bodies concerned, whereby the damage was quantified and a total amount of Rs 1,20,99,81,755 was fixed as compensation amount, of which Rs 55,12,66,695.34 was meant for Zunheboto-Chakhabama road (in Phek district) and Rs 5,81,69,989.70 was allocated for Phek-Pfutsero road in particular. But for reason best known to authorities concerned, the outstanding compensation had not been released till date, the committee members alleged.

They said with the intervention of Supreme Court, the abandoned road project was revived and work was allotted to National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL), adding the work started last December and was expected to be completed in 3 ½ years . 

However, they informed newsmen that the affected community and village authorities were determined not to allow resumption of work on the two-lane road till their outstanding compensation was paid.

Explaining the reasons of CPO’s intervention in the matter, the committee members cautioned that failure to address the issue in time could sacrifice the mega project second time and even create even law and order problem as the victims had been seeking justice for the last 10 years with no positive outcome, forcing the committee to take the matter to the court. 

Under such circumstances, CPO intervened by appointing a committee on two-lane road that subsequently reached an understanding with the aggrieved community so as to plead for court’s intervention seeking justice. The members asserted that the organisation would go any length to ensure that justice was delivered to the victims by the court. CPO had set up the nine-member Committee on 2-lane Road, including two ex-officio.

They alleged that around 10,000 persons were affected by the four projects, with around 1,000 persons being affected in Phek district alone. They added that the total cost of project under NHIDCL now was more than Rs 3,000 crore. 

 

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