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Extortion hindering road works in Nagaland

R N Ravi

Guv orders creation of Highway Construction Protection Force

Dimapur, January 11: Nagaland Governor RN Ravi has directed State Director General of Police (DGP) to constitute a Highway Construction Protection Force to firmly deal with elements indulging in rampant extortion from contractors undertaking road works in the State, including the Dimapur-Kohima four-laning project, and provide security to road construction personnel.
The Governor gave the directive to the DGP after NHIDCL and contractors narrated their “harrowing experiences” at the hands of anti-social elements, purportedly belonging to underground armed organisations at a review meeting held on Saturday.
A Raj Bhavan press release said the Governor took serious note of “such criminal activities” and directed the DGP and IG Assam Rifles to take the most stringent actions against such elements and their patrons.
He also directed DGP to set up an SIT (Special Investigation Team) for registration and focussed investigation of all cases against such elements. He also directed DGP to constitute a Highway Construction Protection Force to firmly deal with such elements and provide security to road construction personnel.
In the meeting, it was revealed that a significant reason for slow progress and compromised quality was rampant extortions by anti-social elements purportedly belonging to underground armed organisations.
“Contractors narrated their harrowing experiences how, they are being threatened on a day to day basis for more and more ransom money and their officials including project managers being abducted for days together. How some of the Engineers have run away not to return to save their lives causing unacceptable delay in completion of the projects,” the press release said.
“It is indeed shocking how the anti-social criminal elements of over half-a-dozen groups are severely jeopardising the progress of roads in Nagaland,” the Raj Bhavan release said.
Today’s meeting reviewed the status and progress of construction of all the roads being built/upgraded under Central Government Schemes or Centrally Sponsored Schemes. State Chief Secretary, Director General of Police, Additional Chief Secretary, Home Commissioner, Commissioner & Secretary, Works & Housing, Engineer-in-Chief and Chief Engineer, Nagaland were present in the meeting besides senior officials of NHIDCL and contractors.
Projects reviewed included 14 packages of 845.745 KMs being built by NHIDCL and 4 projects of 132.59 KMs funded by NEC being built by State Government.
Stating that roads being a priority area of concern, the release informed that the Governor decided to do monthly review of progress and security of road projects in the State.
(Page News Service)