A division bench comprising of acting Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice Girish Kulkarni was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL)
Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Wednesday expressed its displeasure at the slow paced extension work on the Bombay-Goa highway and asked the Maharashtra government and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) the reason behind it. The HC has now sought original record of contracts awarded for the repair and widening of the highway from two lanes to four, the cost of the project and the safety measures that authorities have employed in the meanwhile for the convenience of motorists.
A division bench comprising of acting Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice Girish Kulkarni was hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by city-based lawyer Owais Pechkar, highlighting the poor condition of the highway. Pechkar had also submitted photographs, which showed how the entire stretch was riddled with potholes following rains this year. In the plea, Pechkar informed the court that while the widening and repair work on the highway had begun in 2011, the contractors appointed by the authorities had completed just a small portion of that work.
On Wednesday, the court said “The NHAI is working on just a small portion of the highway and has failed to complete the work in eight long years. The state, meanwhile, proposes to complete the work in the next two years on a stretch of over 470 km. Is the state being ambitious or does the NHAI not have competent contractors?” the bench asked. “What is the reason for such slow pace of work on the NHAI’s portion and what is the actual progress of work on the state’s area? Also, is there an independent authority to check whether the work being done is of the requisite quality?” it said. The Union government had decided to fund the Rs 6,000 crore project of widening the highway because of the increasing number of accidents which occurred on the stretch, the bench noted. Therefore, it was imperative that authorities complete the work in a time-bound manner, while ensuring safety of commuters using the highway while it is under repair.