Hazaribagh, May 12: The 13-day, midnight-to-dawn road closure on the accident-prone Chutupalu valley until tomorrow has proved too fleeting for National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) officials, who are desperate for another week’s time to cut defiant rocks for widening the 9km stretch on NH-33.
Vehicular movement on the valley, 26km from Ranchi and known for its hairpin bends, has been barred from midnight to 5 in the morning since May 1, following a request from NHAI to the Ramgarh district administration to speed up four-laning work and also prevent accidents.
According to sources, with a few gigantic rocks yet to be cut, NHAI wants another week’s extension to complete work on the stretch of the lifeline that links Ranchi and Patna.
A local subcontractor said that the night traffic closure had made things easier for the workmen to cut the rocks. “But we failed to crush all the rocks, as 13 days were not enough,” he told The Telegraph.
According to him, a 36ft high and 50ft long rock was posing a challenge.
“If the night traffic closure is not extended by a week, working amid huge traffic will be a tough task and would mean wasting another 15 to 20 days. We have been working for 22 hours everyday in two shifts,” he added.
Ramgarh deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal, however, said he had not received any request from NHAI for an extension of the road closure.
“I will have to consider various factors, including trouble caused to commuters, before giving an approval for closure of the route for another seven days. Let them (NHAI) first come with a request and then we will decide,” he added.
The Rs 600-crore project, which was supposed to be completed in March, was delayed, prompting officials to target a deadline of December.
NHAI had awarded the contract to Rajasthan-based GR Infraprojects Ltd.
According to sources, a local company involved in the project in Chutupalu valley had pressed into service 45 labourers and machinery to cut the hard rock formations.
The valley had witnessed the loss of 24 lives in accidents last month alone.
Thanks to the plug on night traffic for five hours, wayside hotels were doing brisk business with trucks and buses choosing to stop by until the roads reopened, sources added.
No wonder, when a hotel owner, Manjeet Singh, quipped, “We are happy with the prospect of the road closure being extended by a week.”