Meluri Road Projects: HC Kohima Bench directs contractor to finish work by June 30

The Lephori-Matikhrii road junction in Phek district’s Meluri sub-division. The road to the left leads to Lephori village enroute to Molhe Camp. (Morung File Photo)

The Lephori-Matikhrii road junction in Phek district’s Meluri sub-division. The road to the left leads to Lephori village enroute to Molhe Camp. (Morung File Photo)

Morung Express News
Kohima | June 15 

The Gauhati High Court Kohima Bench has directed the contractor of the road projects in Meluri to complete the construction works by June 30 or face contempt of the Court.

“It is made clear that if the construction of the concerned roads is not completed by June 30, 2024, the applicant/respondent No.7 in PIL No. 14 of 2020, the Contractor would be liable for the contempt of this Court,” stated the order issued by the Division Bench of Chief Justice Vijay Bishnoi and LS Jamir on June 14.

With assurance from the contractor’s counsel, the Bench, hearing an interlocutory application (IA) connected with the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding the road construction between Lephori to Molhe in Phek district, has listed the matter for further hearing on July 3.

As per the Court’s order on June 14, the work was sanctioned in 2011, and the contract for construction of the roads was awarded to M/S Rhino Construction and Agency with work starting in 2018. The contract agreement stipulated that the construction of the road was to be completed within 2 years.

However, to date, the work remains incomplete, it added. 

Accordingly, considering the facts and circumstances and the PIL pleadings, the Court on February 9 this year passed a detailed order restraining the State respondents from making any payment to the contractor without its permission.

In the same order, the Court granted the contractor time to complete the construction work of the concerned roads by May 31.

However, on June 6, the contractor filed the IA seeking an additional 15 days to complete the construction of the road.

The contractor also assured that the construction of the roads is progressing at full speed and will be completed within the next 15 days.

Hence, observing that the application was filed on June 6 and the 15-day period expires on June 21, coupled with the assurance from the contractor’s counsel, the Bench directed the contractor to complete the construction works by June 30 or face contempt.

According to the Court’s records, the PIL was filed on November 11, 2020, alleging that a sum of Rs 30 crore was sanctioned in 2014 for the road construction between Lephori to Molhe in Phek district.

It further highlighted that a completion certificate for the same was issued on January 1, 2014, although the work remains incomplete to date. “It is also alleged that an additional fund of Rs15 crore was sanctioned for the construction of the same road in 2017 and again in 2018, but no road worthy of the name has been constructed so far.”

On April 28, 2023, the Nagaland Government informed the Court that action has been taken against a Nagaland PWD (Roads & Bridges) engineer alleged to have issued a “false completion certificate” for the roads. However, the Court order did not mention the quantum of punishment.

Later, on May 17, the Additional Advocate General (AG) representing the Government of Nagaland informed the Court orally that the concerned engineer was ‘punished’ by “withholding one-year annual increment.”

Meanwhile, during the Friday hearing, after inquiring about the action taken against the engineer, Chief Justice Bishnoi expressed surprise at the apparent leniency shown and sarcastically commented, “Great.”