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Some National Highways in Nagaland have become ‘national shame’: HC

Nagaland News

DIMAPUR, NOVEMBER 18: Delivering a scathing observation, the Kohima Bench of Gauhati High Court has said that some of the National Highways in the Northeast, particularly in Nagaland, have become “national shame”.
The Bench, comprising Justice Songkhupchung Serto and Justice S Hukato Swu, made this biting remark while delivering a judgement in a case filed by Kakiho Achumi and others against the NHIDCL and others.

In March, 2014, the Central Government had notified a new National Highway, which started from Maram in Manipur and ended at Dimapur in Nagaland, according to the Court order.
The National Highway was initially numbered as 102C but was later changed to 129A by a corrigendum issued in July, 2014. It was described as “the Highway starting from its junction with NH-2 near Maram in the State of Manipur connecting Peren, Jalukie, Pimla Junction, Razaphe Junction and terminating at NH-29 near Dimapur in the State of Nagaland”.
Soon, the process for construction of 2-lane on that newly notified National Highway was taken up. However, when tenders were issued by the NHIDCL for construction of the same, which was divided into five packages, the petitioners came to know that the projects were not going to be along the stretches or places mentioned when the NH-129A was initially notified, but diverted along another route passing through Ngwalwa Village.
Being aggrieved, the villagers whose villages were located along the NH-129A submitted a representation in February, 2021 to the Deputy Chief Minister of Nagaland, who is in charge of PWD(R&B).
Another representation was also submitted by the leaders of the surrounding villages to the Chief Minister of Nagaland through the SDO (C), Dhansiripar Sub-Division.
But “no positive and tangible action was taken in response to the representations submitted”, so they went to Court.
“It is an admitted fact that the course of the NH-129A, for which construction NITs were issued by NHIDCL from Peren to Dimapur, are a deviation from the notified course of the National Highway. However, the deviation made in the NITs issued by the NHIDCL has been followed by another notification of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways dated 27.07.2021 No.S.O.2945(E). Therefore, we are of the view that the act of the NHIDCL in having issued the NITs by changing the course of NH-129A has been regularised by a competent authority under the law.
“Further, by the same notification that stretch of the NH-129A which have been left out from the course of the same highway have been declared as NH-329A. Therefore we are also of the view that both the Central and the State Governments have no intention of leaving that stretch of road unattended or uncared for. In fact, two National Highways have been created in and around the same area of the State. Therefore, we find no reason to suspect any mala fide involved in the decision-making process”, the Bench ruled.
The fact that the stretch that was left out from the course of NH-129A has been declared as NH-329A shows that both the State and Central Governments have not abandoned the same, it stated.

“Therefore, one cannot conclude that public interest has been or would be adversely affected by the deviation of the route of NH-129A. Furthermore, it is not possible to see if any mala fide has been involved in the decision-making process in the facts and circumstances of the case. As such, we are of the view that interference of this Court is not called for.
“However, taking into view the anxiety and concern of the public, particularly, the villagers whose villages are located along the earlier notified stretch of NH-129A which is now NH329A, we direct the Union of India, particularly the Ministry of Road Transport & Highway, and the Government of Nagaland to construct, expand and maintain the NH-329A as any other National Highway and it should be done at the earliest but not later than three years”, it ruled.
And as an addition, the Bench gave this observation: “We may also mention here that some of the National Highways in the Northeast, particularly in Nagaland, have become ‘national shame’; therefore, the Ministry concerned and the State Government should take immediate and proper action so that this NH-329A does not become one amongst those National Highways”.
(Page News Service)