The Nagaland State Government has issued a strong call to the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) to take immediate action to improve safety on the Dimapur-Kohima 4-lane highway, particularly the Paglapahar stretch.

A Bolero vehicle was damaged in a rockfall on July 5, injuring four occupants on NH-29, exactly a year after a similar incident where 2 persons were killed and 3 injured.

The government’s concern for commuter safety follows the rockfall incident on July 4, 2023, which highlighted significant risks along this route. In response, the State Government formed a High-Level Technical Committee (HLTC) on July 5, 2023. According to the Public Work Department (National Highway), Government of Nagaland, the HLTC submitted its report and recommendations which were conveyed to the NHIDCI on 19 July 2023 for immediate action.

The NHIDCL was then directed to carry out short term measures as per the recommendations of the HLTC, and to undertake comprehensive study of the terrain and to take up necessary measures, as recommended, in order to address and mitigate the risks in future.

The PWD (NH) also explained that in December 2023, the State Government pointed out at the report and findings of IIT(Bombay) Independent Technical Expert Committee, wherein serious concerns were raised in regards to the construction of the road as well as the hill cutting method which pointed out significant deviations from IRC guidelines, inadequate slope protection, poor rock fall mitigation and non- compliance with safety and quality standards among other issues.

“As a follow up, the NHIDCL was instructed to examine the works to be undertaken so as to make the NH 29 safe, smooth and an all-weather National Highway. These concerns of the State Government, in regards to the safety of the commuters of NH29, were brought to the notice of the office of the Managing Director, NHIDCL Hqs along with the concerns of the State Cabinet on 31 January 2024,” the PWD (NH) added.

It further added that the State Cabinet in its meeting held on 22 January 2024 had discussed the necessary measures to be taken up and decided to engage an independent third party to undertake detailed study and to recommend measures so that the highway can be made safe for commuters. Accordingly, it said, IIT Guwahati has been engaged to undertake this exercise which shall commence its studies soon. The State Cabinet during that meeting also questioned the NHIDCL on how and why the completion certificate for Dimapur-Kohima Package-II has been issued when several portions are yet to be completed and quality issues remain to be addressed.

In April 2024, the State Government instructed the NHIDCL to submit specific safety measures implemented along the Paglapahar stretch of NH-29. They warned that NHIDCL would be held solely responsible for any incidents or accidents due to inadequate safety measures. From April 11, 2023, to June 19, 2024, the State Government has raised this issue with NHIDCL on eighteen occasions, yet no substantial action has been observed.

Stating that the safety of commuters and the interest of people is of paramount concern of the State, the PWD (NH) said added that they have stressed many times upon the issue with the NHIDCL, the Agency responsible for maintaining quality parameters and safety standards of the Dimapur-Kohima 4 lane highway.

“The State Government is making all possible efforts to make road travel safe for commuters. However, it was very distressing to witness the occurrence of another incident at Paglapahar stretch of NH-29 where a rockfall has resulted in injury of passengers and major damage to vehicle. The State Government is resolute to take up the matter with the concerned authorities in all seriousness to effectively address the matter and urge the proactive and sincere response of the NHIDCL to achieve this collective goal for safety of commuters,” it added.


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