Guwahati, Feb 9: After nearly eight years of ongoing construction, the four-lane expansion projects along five stretches of NH-37 in upper Assam remain unfinished. Consequently, the delay is causing inconvenience for both the general public and traffic users in the area.
The Numaligarh-Jorhat section, spanning 39.7 km, has achieved 97 percent physical progress, while the Jorhat-Jhanji section, covering 37.8 km, has attained 40 percent physical progress.
The Jhanji-Demow section, spanning 44 km, has achieved 31 percent physical progress; the Demow-Moran section, covering 26.9 km, has attained 17 percent physical progress; and the Moran-Bogibeel junction (Dibrugarh) section, covering 19.1 km, has achieved 70 percent physical progress.
Due to the slow pace of work, NHIDCL terminated the contract with the original contractor, Gannon Dunkerley and Co. Ltd., on April 8, 2022. Subsequently, fresh tenders were issued, and the contract was awarded to M/s Kamac Engineers and M/s Shiva Harlalka, a joint venture, on July 25, 2022.
NHIDCL had revised the completion date for the project to March 21, 2024. However, owing to the current progress, the anticipated completion date has been reset to July 28, 2024. Despite that, it presents a considerable challenge, considering the substantial amount of work that remains to be accomplished within the next six months.
“It has been very annoying that after eight and a half years, the works on the four-lane highway have not been completed. NHIDCL should take responsibility for the sluggish pace of the work. Four-lane works have been underway in five districts of upper Assam and are one of the major road projects, but after eight and a half years, the works have not been completed. The four-lane project has become a’money-making machine’ for the contractors, and they are doing the work in a slow way to incur the budget of the project,” said Aboni Kumar Gogoi, AASU, Dibrugarh district president.
He said, “The central government should take the matter seriously and remove the NHIDCL officials who are associated with the four-lane project. They are doing the work as per their wishes because they are only answerable to the center. When we questioned them about the sluggish work, they told us that materials had been stolen and, due to the scarcity of boulders in Assam, the project had been going slowly. They give some lame excuses and try to ‘befool’ the people.”.
Local residents and commuters have expressed their anticipation for the timely completion of the four-lane highway.
Ramakanta Gogoi, a local resident, said, “The four-lane highway is important for the region’s progress. The work is going on in a slow manner, but the higher authority is not concerned about this issue. The question arises here: why has the project been going slowly? Nobody could give the answers. The department concerned is running a racket to earn more money from this project.”
The project, which commenced with the laying of its foundation stone by Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on May 1, 2015, has only achieved a physical progress of 30.96 percent over the last eight and a half years.
“We are aware of the urgency and the challenges ahead. Our teams are fully committed to accelerating the pace of work to ensure that the project is completed within the revised timeline,” an NHIDCL official said.
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