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HC calls chief secy on bad roads

Ranchi/Jamshedpur, Dec. 3: Jharkhand High Court today summoned chief secretary and road construction secretary seeking an explanation on government policy with regard to the repair of the cratered Adityapur-Kandra road, the lifeline of the Adityapur Industrial Area housing over 600 auto ancillaries.

Hearing a PIL filed by Jan Kalyan Morcha, which exposed the pathetic condition of the crucial 15km road, the court asked A.K. Singh and road construction secretary N.N. Sinha, to throw light on the government’s decision to hand over the repair work to a contractor with a budget of Rs 137 crore on a design, built, operate and transfer (DBOT) system.

Explaining the deal to a division bench of justices Sushil Harkauli and J.C.S. Rawat, the state advocate-general said the road would be constructed at the expense of the contractor, who would then be allowed to recover costs by setting up toll stations.

The judges, however, were not satisfied with the idea of using the DBOT system. Therefore, they summoned the secretaries on December 6 to explain how the government decided to hand over the repair work under the system in the absence of a policy decision.

The PIL filed by NGO Jan Kalyan Morcha in 2007 highlighted the pathetic condition of the Adityapur-Kandra road built by Maheshwari Brothers, a contractors’ firm, in 2005 at a cost of Rs 35 crore.

It claimed the road, an arterial link between Jamshedpur and Seraikela, collapsed two years after it was built. It is now riddled with gaping potholes, making it extremely dangerous for commuters as well as heavy vehicles that need to ply on the stretch.

In response, the court rapped the road construction department for misusing public money and using substandard material to build the road. An FIR was registered against the contractor and a few officials.

Morcha president Om Prakash, who has been pursuing the case, said, “We are happy that the state government has decided to reconstruct the road. But why on BOT basis, which will require the public to pay toll each time they use it?”

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