Dilapidated stretches on National Highway 33 at Pardih and Kanderbera (above) on Tuesday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
Remember the signposts saying speed thrills but kills? When a smooth highway gives in to potholes, speed kills even more, as is apparent from the condition of the stretch between Chandil and Pardih on NH-33.
After a rare three months of smooth rides from April to late June, the 22km leg of the national highway, which underwent repairs earlier this year is back to square one, with gaping potholes following the first burst of monsoon rain turning it into an accident-prone zone.
On Saturday night, two persons were killed when a speeding truck hit the bike they were in from behind near Chandil, about 20km from Jamshedpur.
The biker swerved to the right while trying to avoid a pothole, thereby coming straight in front of the truck, whose driver managed to flee.
Curiously, a day earlier, an elderly man was killed in a similar fashion, hit by a truck while he was trying to dodge a pothole and move his bicycle to the right near Kanderbera village, about 12km from the steel city.
Thousands of vehicles, including four-wheelers, trucks and trailers, cross the busy stretch of NH-33, which links the steel city with Ranchi.
As the four-laning project of the highway is already in the pipeline, the NH division of the state road construction department opted for repairing the stretch three months ago.
Tinku Prasad, a Mango resident who goes to Chandil almost every day in his bike, said that after a brief spell of rain in the last week of June, the surface of NH-33 had begun to peel off.
The same potholes have resurfaced on the highway, making people doubt that the repair work was sub-standard and a complete eyewash, he said.
Prasad, who deals in heavy vehicles, added, I have begun to experience the same risk while passing through Pardih to Chandil that I used to three months ago.
Chief engineer of the state NH wing Murari Bhagat said they were aware of the fact that the stretch had started developing potholes following the rains.
He said that he had already instructed the Jamshedpur division of the NH wing to get the damaged portions repaired immediately.
When queried, he however said the repair work earlier had been satisfactory.
We are not getting any funds from the Centre for repairing the NH-33 for the past three years. Whatever repairs are being done is in order to make the highway motorable. Moreover, we are not in a condition to spend much, he said.
Bhagat further said the four-laning project on NH-33 was already on, adding that during the widening plan no major repair work would be done.
Inspector, Chandil police circle, K.N. Mishra said accidents were more frequent after the potholes started to reappear on the highway.
I have asked the policemen to keep an eye on commuters and make sure they drive carefully while travelling on this stretch, he added.