The indefinite bandh on NH-61, by civil society organizations of Wokha District and the reasons therefor, have been widely published in the newspapers. Without malice to any of the organizations imposing the said bandh, it is necessary to place on record the facts and circumstances relating to the execution of the contract awarded by Letter of Acceptance (“LOA”) bearing No. CE/NH(0)/2019-20/104/98-101 dated 25.08.2020 (hereinafter referred to as the “contract”). This contract is specifically for the widening of the existing single/intermediate lane to two-lane road, from chainage 72.4km to 83.00km on NH-61 in the State of Nagaland. This road covers the stretch from Longsa to Hammock Resort.

In terms of the contract, the right of way (“ROW”) was to be made available to the contractor, within a period of 30 days from the date of execution of the contract Agreement i.e., 05.11.2020. In the issuance of contracts, the ROW is a given factor. However, the ROW issue became an inhibiting factor from the very inception. A contractor awarded the construction of road projects, is not in any way involved in the process of securing the ROW. The ROW is in the exclusive domain of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH), the State Government, the District Authorities and the Office of the Chief Engineer, PWD (NH).

Issues relating to compensation for land, including structures thereon, are supposed to be resolved before the floating of the Notice Inviting Tender (“NIT”). Contractors submit their bids on the understanding that there will be no issues relating to ROW. The ROW in certain stretches of the contract project was issued only on 09.03.2022. In these stretches, the contract project has been completed according to the specifications. However, the ROW for 10% of the contract project, has still not been made available. This would mean, that the MoRTH, the State Government, the District Administration and the Office of the Chief Engineer PWD(NH) on one side and land owners on the other side, have not been able to resolve issues relating to land compensation.

In such circumstances, it is a misconception and/or an uninformed appreciation of ground realities, to blame the contractor for not completing the contract project. The delays due to circumstances beyond the control of the contractor have resulted in huge losses, as well as the inability on the part of the contractor to complete the contract project. It would only be fair for all stake holders, including those agitating to appreciate this irrefutable fact. Another issue which has been raised is the non-demolishing of “buildings, structures for which compensation has already been paid”. Those whose stand is that “compensated buildings and structures must be demolished” insist that they will not allow further construction of the contract project, unless the said buildings/structures are first demolished.

This misconceived stand appears to be an insurmountable obstruction. In various meetings and site inspections, in the ROW which has been provided, measurements have been repeatedly taken to show that the buildings and structures which are “yet to be demolished” are actually outside the ROW. This fact can be verified from the Office of the Chief Engineer PWD (NH), as well as the D.C., Wokha. It is therefore wrong and motivated to impute any shortcoming upon the contractor, in relation to the non-demolition of “compensated buildings and structures”.

The contractor is also accused of substandard work in constructing drains, retaining walls, culverts and the carriage way. The work order issued pursuant to the LOA, contains specific details as to how each and every component of the contract project should be executed. Thus far, the contract Authority i.e. the Chief Engineer PWD (NH), has found no fault with the execution of any of the components of the contract project. It is therefore, incomprehensible as to why such an allegation is being raised.

A section of people in the Wokha Town area demanded that the contractor provide the machineries and man power to demolish the “buildings and structures already compensated.” The contractor, as earlier stated, is not in any way involved in securing the ROW. That apart, the “buildings and structures already compensated”, proposed to be demolished, fall outside the ROW.

Therefore, the contractor did not wish to get into a situation which could lead to conflict. On this score too, it is incomprehensible as to how fault can be attributed to the contractor.

From the inception of the execution of the contract project, the contractor has been facing obstructions on a daily basis. The ROW for certain sections was provided by the District Administration at a belated stage. That too, not in a single stretch but in pockets, from time to time. Those considering themselves, to be espousing public interest have impeded the completion of the contract project by stopping and obstructing work, detaining workmen and labourers, physically manhandling them, mentally and physically abusing the Officials and agents of the contractor and more.

Protesters of different hues and their obstructions, resulted in a complete standstill in the execution of the contract project. Firstly, for a period of 540 days from 25.08.2020 to 22.03.2022, and then from 15.05.2023 till date. These obstructions resulted in a slow pace in the execution of the contract project. The closure of work in the construction project for more than two years has entailed huge losses for the contractor. Idle men and machinery, investments without returns for two years, especially in a project involving only Rs. 65.00Cr and the losses therefrom, can very well be imagined by everyone.

The closure of the contract project for the periods as referred to hereinabove and the failure of the State to provide the remaining 10% of the ROW, coupled with the irrational demands foisted upon the contractor, such demands not being a part of the LOA and work order, has had adverse effects. As an entity engaged in the construction business, it has become near impossible for the contractor to complete the contract project. In these circumstances, the contractor has written to the State and the contract Authority i.e. the Chief Engineer PWD (NH), for de-scoping the contract to the extent executed till date.

It is unfortunate that because of a misunderstanding of ground realities, the bandh on NH-61 has been imposed. In the press statements issued from time to time, a picture has been painted to show as if the contractor is culpable of shortcomings. This allegation couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Briefly put, the complete ROW for the execution of the contract project has not been provided till date. From 25.08.2020 to 22.03.2022, agitators completely stopped the execution of the project.

Beginning from 09.03.2022, the State and District Administration started providing the required ROW in pockets. However, till date, as earlier stated, the complete ROW has not been provided.

Allegations were raised that the contractor is not executing the contract project in terms of the contract specifications. The contractor has executed each and every component of the contract project in terms of the specifications provided. There is no complaint whatsoever in this regard by the Contract Authority i.e., the Chief Engineer PWD (NH). Misconceived perceptions about “compensated buildings and structures” were sought to be imposed, without realizing that the said buildings and structures are outside the ROW and that even otherwise, the contractor is not responsible for any issues relating to the ROW.

Additional and repeated demands by certain sections, resulted in the further closure of the execution of the contract project from 05.08.2023 and continues till date. The issues raised are not the responsibility of the contractor. It is in this backdrop that the contractor issues this Press Statement. It is hoped that a reading of this Press Statement will clear up misunderstandings and/or misperceptions and/or confusion, about what has actually happened with the execution of the contract project.

Thanking you,

Dimapur, Nagaland

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