Ranchi, July 9: A crucial meeting scheduled at the Union ministry of environment & forests (MoEF), New Delhi, tomorrow will decide the fate of the ambitious over Rs 1,500-crore NH-33 four-laning project between Ranchi and Jamshedpur, which is stuck in the absence of a green nod.
National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had shortlisted construction major Madhucon Projects Limited as a concessionaire for the project almost one and a half years ago. But a forest and environment clearance for the stretch between Ranchi and Rargaon (80km of total 163km) is still pending.
“A meeting at MoEF is scheduled tomorrow. Only after a green nod from it we can give a ‘letter to proceed’ to the concessionaire. The agency will take another two and a half years to complete construction of the proposed four-lane between Ranchi and Jamshedpur,” said a senior technocrat at NHAI’s office here.
Delhi-based NHAI general manager A. Srivastava, who is in charge of projects in Jharkhand and Bihar, told The Telegraph they had been unable to start groundwork because of issues related to forest clearances and land acquisition.
On July 5, chief minister Arjun Munda chaired a meeting with the authorities concerned. Principal chief conservator of forests A.K. Mishra, Madhucon Projects Limited managing director N. Seethaiah and his principal secretary D.K. Tiwary among others were present. Munda had told the officials that the state had requested the Centre to expedite forest clearance and urged them to start work latest by August.
According to land records, a total of 38 hectares falling between Ranchi and Rargaon were forestland and hence, a clearance from MoEF was necessary. The stage I forest clearance for the remaining stretch between Rargaon and Mohulia, which includes about 10 hectares of forest area, has been obtained. But authorities conceded that it should be followed by another go-ahead from the National Board for Wildlife.
Of late, two proposed phases of Ranchi ring road were included in the four-laning project. It will be an entirely new 25km alignment connecting NH-33 near Vikas Vidyalaya (Ranchi-Hazaribagh road) and Rampur (Ranchi-Jamshedpur road).
The four-laning project is part of phase III of National Highways Development Programme (NHDP) and should have been executed over a couple of years ago. But first tender blues and then pending forest clearance and land acquisition delaying it.