As the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has failed to restart the work on Kiratpur – Nerchowk Express Highway (KNEH) – NH 21, even after a year of the work coming to standstill due to financial crunch both BJP and Congress candidates of Mandi parliament constituency are worried as this issue can influence thousands of voters of the affected families.
The construction work on the four-lane work which had started in 2013 was scheduled to be completed by 2017 but is likely to be delayed for many more years.
The work on the project has come to standstill as contractors executing this project have stopped all construction activities since 22nd June 2018 for failure of ITNL and IL&FS companies engaged by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to make payment of nearly Rs 100 crores due to the contractors.
This has not only brought many contractors on the verge of bankruptcy for their failure to return loan taken from banks for purchasing machinery and procuring material. The families of the petty contractors are the worst sufferers.
Four lane express highway would facilitate thousands of tourists traveling daily between Manali and Chandigarh, considered one of the life lines of Himachal by reducing the distance by 36 kms.
This road is also used by thousands of truckers daily for transporting cement from three cement plants, apple, tomato and other goods to and fro, besides being of a strategic important road link with Leh.
General Secretary of Association of Contractors HR Sharma says , “ The contractors are facing worst crises as the IELS company has filed bankruptcy proceedings and the NHAI has neither restarted the work nor made commitment for payment of about Rs 100 crores due to contractors .” “This issue is definitely an election issue as survival of thousands of families is linked and both candidates Ram Swaroop Sharma and Congress candidate Ashray Sharma has not given any firm commitment on the issue, ” he added.
President of Four Lane Sangharsah Samiti Joginder Walia tells, “The affected families have been demanding payment of compensation as per Factor -2, payment of interest for compensation amount, basic facilities like service roads, pedestrian paths, over bridges and foot bridges, restoration of water resources and electricity supply etc and thousands of affected families would vote keeping all these issues in mind.”
BJP candidate Ram Swaroop Sharma said , “ I have been taking up this issue with the Central government and committed to find a solution to problems of the four lane affected families and petty contractors.” Congress candidate Ashray Sharma said, “I would forcefully plead all issues related to four lane project if elected.”
( My this story was published in The Daily Post on May 14, 2019