Sikkim High Court: The Division Bench of Biswanath Somadder and Meenakshi Madan Rai, JJ. took up the PIL in order the peruse the status report concerned with the damaged roads and highways in the State.

The Court was informed that repairing of the damaged road (NH–10) had been entrusted to several private agencies from point to point, between Sevoke, West Bengal and Rangpo, Sikkim. However, while repair work in some sections were progressing satisfactorily, progress of work was abysmally slow at certain points. The Court showed concern about the fact that with this year’s monsoons around the corner – the entire condition of the existing road (NH–10) between Sevoke, West Bengal and Rangpo, Sikkim, will be back to square one if pace of the work would continued be slow.

The Court therefore directed the concerned authority of the State of West Bengal to ensure immediate escalation of progress of work of repairing of National Highway-10, especially in those areas where progress has been abysmally slow along with filing a fresh status report on the next date.

The Court further noticed from the report that for emergency repair and maintenance of National Highway-10 (between Sevoke, West Bengal and Rangpo, Sikkim), the State had received a sum of Rs.8.22 crores during the financial year ending 31st March, 2022. However, due to the nature of extensive damage caused by several landslides and floods – especially during the post monsoon period last year –some additional funds (to the tune of approximately Rs.11.00 crores) has been estimated by the concerned PWD authority for the purpose of executing emergency repair and maintenance work of the relevant stretch of National Highway-10. The Court consequently requested the Secretary, Ministry of Surface Transport, Department of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, to consider release of additional funds, as indicated in the Chief Engineer’s affidavit, in order to ensure that emergency repair and maintenance work of National Highway-10 does not get stalled due to paucity of funds along with a specific report of the same.

The Court considering the fact that this year’s monsoons were around the corner directed all the concerned authorities/stakeholders – who were parties in the instant Public Interest Litigation – to be present (or be represented) in a meeting which shall be held at 12.00 noon on 06th May, 2022, at the Conference Hall of this Court in order to chalk out the immediate course of action to ensure completion of emergency repair and maintenance of National Highway-10, before this year’s monsoons take a toll on National Highway-10, the main arterial road connecting Sikkim with rest of the country.

Next hearing is due on 10-05-2022.[Court on Suo Motu v. Secretary, Ministry of Surface Transport, 2022 SCC OnLine Sikk 39, decided on 26-04-2022]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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