Goa activists want highway consultant penalised

December 7th, 2010 - 8:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Dec 7 (IANS) Activists protesting the expansion of a national highway in Goa Tuesday demanded the recovery of Rs.9 crore fee from a foreign consultant for preparing an allegedly faulty project report.

The consultant firm should be forced to pay back Rs.9 crore fee it charged to prepare site plans for a project funded by the union ministry of road transport and highways, said a representative of the protestors.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference here, Sunil Desai, convenor of the National Highway Diversion Action Committee (NHDAC), said that a government land acquisition report had revealed that the project report prepared by the US-based Wilbur Smith Associates (WSA) was ridden with discrepancies.

The committee has challenged the expansion of the NH 4A - that starts from Belgaum in Karnataka and ends at Panaji in Goa. The highway is 153 km long.

“We demand that the government should reclaim the Rs.9 crore given to WSA because a deputy collector’s report has said that there are numerous discrepancies in the work,” Desai said.

According to deputy collector Anthony D’Souza’s report, the process of site inspection and identification of the boundaries of the land notified for acquisition, it was observed that there were major discrepancies in the site plans prepared by the consultant.

The consultant has gone off track while showing the area required to be acquired and the area already in possession of the state government of Goa, said the deputy collector’s report.

The NHDAC is protesting the state government’s move to acquire 51.60 lakh square metres of land for the expansion of the highway.

The committee claims that the government should seek an alternative route for the highway, instead of expanding the current highway and bulldozing homes along the motorway.

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