NORTH LAKHIMPUR, March 15 – A legal battle between the water resources department of Lakhimpur and a construction company has been affecting the progress of works in the Rs 362 crore embankment project off the river Ranganadi in Lakhimpur district.
The construction company Shivam had submitted tenders for the partial work of the embankment costing Rs 20 crore which was not entertained by the water resources department of Lakhimpur. Following this, Shivam moved the Gauhati High Court against the decision of the department. The High Court delivered an interim stay order asking to halt the construction work of the embankment on a 11-km stretch.
As the legal battle has been on, it is the common public living on the bank of the river that is getting vulnerable to floods as the monsoon season is approaching. It has been alleged that the executive engineer of the water resources department of Lakhimpur is responsible for this impasse for awarding the tenders of the construction work to contractors in a haphazard manner involving huge commissions.
Shivam, a construction company, whose bid was rejected, filed a case for halt of the construction work. For this Shivam is also accused of ignoring the concerns of public safety and larger interests of the society for its own business interest.
As the work was suspended due to the High Court stay order, the public living in 36 villages under four gaon panchayats on the eastern bank of the Ranganadi river is feeling insecure fearing floods in the coming monsoon season. Various organisations representing the villagers’ concerns have been demanding immediate resumption of construction work of the embankment. However, the district administration has been very slow and slack in dealing with the situation that involves public safety and security.
Organisations like AASU, TMPK and many others have taken out protest marches and staged demonstrations, including the blockade of NH-15 in North Lakhimpur, demanding immediate start of the construction work on the embankment. A series of meetings were also held between the protesting public organisations and the Deputy Commissioner over the impasse.
But so far the district administration has failed to find out a way to address the concerns and fears of the public living on the river bank. The construction of the embankment off the river Ranganadi was a much needed priority project for the district after the flood havoc of 2008. The construction work on the worn-out embankment has already been delayed by the water resources department in Lakhimpur.
The alleged irregularity shown by its concerned engineers in allotting contracts and the legal war following such allegations are now costing the public from getting the much needed protection from the flood of the Ranganadi river in the coming monsoon.
Meanwhile, Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs and Lakhimpur MP Sarbananda Sonowal has written to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi asking him to take measures to complete the construction of the embankment off the river Ranganadi before the onset of monsoon.