Non-payment of compensation to land losers the main reason
Naveen Patnaik government has been making tall claims about facilitating faster development in the rural areas of the State. But it’s Rural Development Department has not been able to construct a high-level bridge across the river Kharasrota on Bari-Binjharpur Road in Jajpur district so far though the work got administrative approval way back in 2006.
Delay in execution of the project due to various reasons, primarily on account of non-payment of compensation to the land losers whose land had been acquired for the bridge, has led to 74.37 per cent increase over the original cost of the project.
The estimated cost of the project initially was fixed at Rs. 8,58,12,000. First time, the tender for the project was cancelled due to non-fulfilment of criteria, and second, third and fifth time the tender became non-responsive. The fourth time the tender of a company was cancelled due to high tender rate.
Finally, the work was awarded to Messrs Satyasai Construction, Super Class Contractor, at a cost of Rs. 13,69,34,981. The date of commencement and date of completion were stipulated as April 21, 2010 and August 20, 2012 respectively.
Since the construction of the bridge could not be completed on time, the authorities concerned revised the estimated cost of the work at Rs. 14,96,34,000 last year.
Though the contractor started construction of the bridge on time, the work suffered delay towards the end after the High Court, while disposing of a petition filed by the land losers, ordered on September 16 last year that the construction work of the bridge shall not be carried out till the compensation amount in respect of the acquired land was paid to the land losers.
The authorities, however, failed to implement the High Court’s order to ensure payment of the compensation to the land losers to resume work.
In such a backdrop, a public interest petition was filed before the High Court by the villagers who would be benefited by the bridge.
The villagers submitted that only the last span of the bridge had remained to be constructed and prayed the court to direct the authorities for early completion of the work. Disposing of the PIL at the time of preliminary hearing at the admission stage on December 12 last, a Division Bench of the court, comprising Chief Justice V. Gopala Gowda and Justice B.N. Mahapatra, ordered that the dispute between the land owners and the State government regarding settlement of their compensation, if that was not already determined, shall be attended to immediately.
The Bench further directed the authorities to see that the contractor shall finish bridge work within a period of six months from the date of receipt of the certified copy of the order. The court further directed the authorities to submit the compliance report immediately after six months. But one of the land losers has again moved the High Court seeking a direction for payment of compensation as the authorities had failed to implement both the orders of the court.
Interestingly, though the court was yet to hear the latest petition, the authorities, instead of ensuring completion of the bridge, have again asked the contractor not to complete the construction in view of the filing of a fresh petition.