State highway’s construction runs into trouble

Staff Reporter

ITANAGAR, 27 Jan: Arunachal’s first state highway, the Itanagar-Jote road, has run into trouble due to the refusal of some landowners to donate land free of cost.

The Itanagar-Jote road is being taken up on a pilot basis as the state’s first own highway, and is being funded by the NABARD. There is no provision for compensation and the majority of the people have voluntarily donated land free of cost. The total cost of the project is Rs 89 crores.

While the work on the 14-km stretch under the Papum Pare rural district administration is underway on a war footing, the work on the 6-km stretch under the Itanagar Capital Region (ICR) administration has not been started till now as the authorities have failed to provide an encumbrance-free RoW to the contractor. Some of the land and building owners have refused to vacate their properties on the stretch between Itanagar and Moin village, which comes under the ICR administration, thereby halting the work. They knocked the Gauhati High Court’s door and obtained a stay order.

ICR Deputy Commissioner Talo Potom said that he is working hard to get the stay order vacated at the earliest. “We are working to get it vacated at the earliest and are hopeful that work will soon start on this stretch,” said Potom.

He also said that, on the stretch between Itanagar and Moin, the majority of the land belongs to the forest department.

“People who are claiming compensation are illegally staying in these areas and they should know it. Law will take its own course of action,” the DC said.

Further, he said that he has urged the power and the PHE departments to immediately submit estimates for utility shifting. “Both have been asked to submit estimates as soon as possible.

After that, I will pursue the matter with the government,” he added.

Meanwhile, the project director of Bhimji Velji Sorathia Construction Pvt Ltd, Ngurang Changriang said that his company is facing loss due to the failure of the ICR administration to provide encumbrance-free land. “We have already completed earth-cutting for 14-km stretch and will also complete the GSB laying by the end of February. But as we are not able to work on the Itanagar to Moin stretch, my machines are lying idle. This is causing a big loss to us,” said Changriang.

He informed that, out of 30 culverts, nine have been completed and the remaining culverts will be completed within the next month. He also said that, if the RoW is cleared, his company would complete the earth-cutting for the Itanagar-Moin stretch within a month.

Besides the issue of RoW, the contractor is also facing financial issues as the Doimukh PWD is yet to make any payment. Even though the NABARD has released the first installment of payment, the state government is yet to pay the contractor.

“Last year, on the demand of the state government, Rs 25 crores had been released. We are yet to receive any demands after that from the state government. Whenever we receive new demand, we will examine and release fund accordingly,” said an official of the NABARD.