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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014

Ludhiana-Talwandi Bhai four-laning suspended; commuters distraught

Surinder Maan, Hindustan Times  letterschd@hindustantimes.com Moga, December 11, 2013
First Published: 20:42 IST(11/12/2013) | Last Updated: 20:44 IST(11/12/2013)

Commuters are likely to bear the brunt of a dispute between the main contractor and the sub-contractor on four-laning 78 km of NH-95 from Ludhiana to Talwandi Bhai via Moga, as work has been suspended for some time now.

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VARAH Infrastructure, the firm handling the stretch, has stopped work, claiming that it has not been paid its pending Rs. 50 crore by a company called PAN India, which gave it the work. PAN India had sourced the work from ESSEL Infrastructure Private Limited.

However, for a common man, the stretch could turn into a killer stretch as diversions and underpasses abound on the road.

The National Highways Authority of India had awarded the contract for four-laning the road to ESSEL Infrastructure Private Limited, which had awarded it to PAN India for Rs. 692 crore. PAN India had appointed VARAH infrastructure to do the job.

VARAH had started widening the road a year ago and the NHAI had recently issued a work certificate of Rs. 392 crore for the ongoing construction. VARAH send a termination notice to ESSEL on November 11, 2013.

After 15 days of sending the termination notice, VARAH filed an application in Ludhiana court seeking formation of an arbitration body.

"We have stopped work as ESSEL has not cleared our payment of Rs. 50 crore for five months. Our employees have not been paid for five months. We had to terminate the project due to this," said senior project manager VARAH, Jitendera Singh.

"There are more than 30 under-passes, under-bridges and flyovers, which are under construction. Leaving work midway will add to the difficulties of the people. Diversions are already a major problem here," said district president of Shiromani Akali Dal (BC wing), Kamaljeet Singh.

"At the main crossing of the Moga city, the company had planned to construct a new sewerage system as the old posed difficulty in construction. So, parts of the road here were dug up. Now, this will remain a major traffic hazard, till work resumes," said social activist Dwarka Nath Bansal.

When contacted, Moga deputy commissioner, Arshdeep Singh Thind said, "I have written to the NHAI to settle the matter fast, so that commuters do not have to suffer."

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