CM says will resign if Chandranagar-Papu Nallah road not completed by March

[Amar Sangno]

ITANAGAR, Oct 1: Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Thursday stated that he would resign from his position if Package A of National Highway 415, from Chandranagar to Papu Nallah, is not completed by March, leaving apart underpasses and bridges.

The chief minister said this on the sideline of a ‘press interactive session’ on the Agriculture Reform Act, 2020, at Siddhartha Hall here, in the presence of union MoS Kiren Rijiju.

“I will resign from chief ministership if Package A of NH 415 from Chandranagar to Papu Nallah is not completed by March,” he said. However, Khandu said that bridges and underpasses would be completed only after March.

The deteriorating condition of the entire NH 415, particularly in Itanagar and Naharlagun, has angered citizens, and the state government has been drawing flak on social media for not maintaining the roads in the capital and other districts of the state.

Package A of NH 415 is a three-year project, which started on 1 September, 2017. The total cost of the 10 kilometre stretch is Rs 196 crore. The executing agency, TK Engineering Consortium, has missed the deadline of completion by the end of this past September. However, the executing agency claimed that the reason for the delay was that the PWD highway and the district administration failed to provide encumbrance-free right of way.

The global pandemic, followed by the nationwide lockdown and the ravaging monsoon slowed down the pace of work, it said. TK Engineering also informed that the construction of the Chandranagar bridge is being delayed due to a litigation filed by a resident who claims to be the landowner.

Amid the pandemic lockdown, on 3 June, the ministry of road transport & highways (MoRTH) gave six months’ relaxation to the construction industries and contractors, considering the impact of the pandemic and the lockdown. The MoRTH also approved measures for providing urgent relief to the contractors, concessionaires and developers of the road sector, in view of the Covid-19 situation.

The measures include extension of time for the contractors, monthly payment to the contractors for the work done and accepted as per the specifications of the contract under the EPC/HAM, direct payment to approved sub-contractors through escrow accounts, waiver of penalty for delay in submission of performance security and bank guarantee, etc.

Sources informed The Arunachal Times that TK Engineering and the PWD highway are facing insurmountable pressure from the government to expedite the work progress. Unverified sources said that, as per the PWD highway department’s report, the formation cutting from Chandranagar to Papu Nallah (Package A) has been completed. Currently, three major works – carpeting, two bridges in Chandranagar, and an 80-metre underpass in the Legi Complex area – are pending.

When asked by The Arunachal Times about the failure to maintain the Papu Nallah-Banderdewa stretch, the PWD highway division informed that the stretch has been divided into two packages – Package B (Papu Nallah-Nirjuli) and Package C (Nirjuli-Banderdewa). The department added that whoever is awarded the works, it would be their responsibility to maintain the stretches.

Sources in the department revealed that the technical bidding for both Package B and Package C was opened in the MoRTH office in New Delhi recently. For Package B, it is said that nine firms participated, and seven firms took part in the bidding for Package C. It is also learnt that the codal procedures of the technical bidding have been completed and the firms that qualified will be evaluated soon.

The total amount for Package B is Rs 426 crore, and Package C has approximately Rs 336 crore.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Bamang Felix on Thursday convened a review meeting over the progress of NH 415 with officers of the highway department and representatives of TK Engineering, the MoRTH, and the district administration.