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Finally, highway repair trims down travel time

- Major potholes plugged, vehicles cover 130km between steel city and state capital in 75 minutes less

Slo-mo to fast track is the story of the recent NH-33 repair that brought the capital closer to Jamshedpur on Wednesday. While the distance — 130km — remains the same, you can rev up the wheels to give the clock a run for its tick-tock.

The magic formula? Repair potholes on NH-33 between Dimna Chowk and Saherbera (Chandil), reduce travel time by a third, from 90 to 30 minutes. The larger picture? Link Jharkhand’s two key cities — Ranchi and Jamshedpur — in two hours and 15 minutes instead of three and a half hours. That’s saving 75 minutes flat.

The Telegraph had highlighted the pathetic condition of this stretch in its report titled “Slo-mo highway” on January 14, which prompted chief minister Arjun Munda to nudge the state road construction department to undertake repair.

The department began repairs on this highway stretch on February 5 last with a total estimated cost of Rs 1.15 crore sponsored by the state.

Of the 19km stretch, mechanised repair work on 13km was entrusted with two separate contractors, Chandil-based HLM Enterprises and Jamshedpur’s Adhunik Infrastructure. The six remaining kilometres — in comparatively better condition — is being repaired through manual patch-up jobs by the state road construction department, but work has been held up right now as bitumen is not available.

“Mechanised repair work was completed early last week. HLM Enterprises completed polishing the surface of the bituminous road, technically called wearing course,” National Highways (Jamshedpur division) executive engineer Satish Chand Choudhary said. “We were hopeful of completing work on the entire 19km stretch by March 31, but bitumen shortage put paid to our plans,” the executive engineer added, admitting that brief stretches of NH-33 from Kandrabera to Saherbera needed repair.

Another snag in manual repair on the remaining 6km is illegal sand lifting from trucks.

“Trucks tow wet sand from riverbanks, with water dripping on the road. This stretch is always wet, which hampers the repair of the bituminous road. We asked Seraikela-Kharsawan deputy commissioner R.K. Agarwal to stop this at least temporarily,” said the executive engineer.

The new deadline? “April 15 is our target for the full 19km stretch,” Choudhary said.

While the authorities are itching to get the whole project over with, long-distance bus drivers, who find driving a pleasure on the newly repaired stretches, are already excited.

“It takes only around 135 minutes now to reach the Ranchi railway overbridge from Jamshedpur’s Dimna Chowk. Barring one or two stretches near Kandrabera and Saherbera with some small potholes, the stretch has been repaired and makes driving that much more easy,” said driver Vishnu Sharma, employed with Konark Bus, one among a fleet of vehicles on the Jamshedpur-Ranchi route.

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