The National Highway Authority of India has been directed to pay Rs50,000 to an advocate espousing the cause of a functionally complete Mumbai-Goa highway (NH-66), which has overshot its promised deadline of December 2020.
Imposing the penalty, the Bombay High Court said that the state and the NHAI are in breach of their undertaking that they will complete the construction and widening of the highway.
Top officials of NHAI & PWD ordered to personally inspect work
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice Arif Doctor on Wednesday directed the NHAI project director and the superintendent engineer of the Public Works Department (PWD) of the state government to personally inspect the work on the highway and submit a report within four weeks.
“Considering that the petitioner, Owais Pechkar (who has been espousing the public cause since 2018), has to come to court repeatedly, and as the respondents have not complied with their undertaking, we direct the respondents to pay him Rs50,000 toward litigation cost,” said the judges in their order and asked the advocates for the NHAI and the state to ensure that the order is communicated to their respective officers.
Highway full of potholes despite several complains
Pechkar earlier filed a contempt petition as the work hasn’t been completed despite court’s directives. On Wednesday, he filed another affidavit pointing out that the highway was still riddled with potholes despite repeated assurances.
“Earlier order records your (authorities) undertaking that it will be done in two years. You are in breach of your own undertaking. You gave a commitment of two years ago and based on that PIL was disposed of,” said Justice Jamdar.
Contractor fired over poor quality of work
The NHAI informed the court that they had terminated the contract with the then-contractor due to delay and the latter then approached the Delhi HC, where the litigation resulted in further delay. He added that the potholes keep recurring and they are taken care of as and when they receive information. He also said that the potholes pointed out by Pechkar were attended to.
The court then asked as why people or the petitioner need to point out the potholes and why the NHAI cannot take proactive steps. The bench then asked the officers to visit the stretch mentioned on the NH-66 and submit report in four weeks.