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NH-33 to get wider

The much-awaited nod for kicking off the NH-33 widening project has finally come from the Union ministry of environment and forests.

Chairman of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) R.P. Singh has given the go-ahead to Hyderabad concessionaire Madhucon Projects Limited to start widening of nearly 82km from Rargaon to Mohulia (near Ghatshila in Jamshedpur) from November 9. The concessionaire will begin work after receiving a formal letter from Delhi within a week.

The clearance for the Ranchi-Rargaon stretch — another 82km — is expected before January 2013. The Rs 1,479-crore NH-33 widening project covers a total 164km between Ranchi and Mohulia.

Confirming the development, deputy general manager of NHAI Anil Kumar said: “The letter from the Union ministry, whose appraisal committee on infrastructure had already given its nod for the Rargaon-Mohulia project this July, reached NHAI yesterday (Thursday). The ministry will shortly issue a similar order for the Ranchi-Rargaon stretch after a formal clearance is received for 38 hectares of forest land needed for the project,” he added.

An elated senior project manager of Madhucon Projects Limited Mukesh Tiwary told The Telegraph that they would approach chief minister Arjun Munda for a formal date to inaugurate the project in a grand manner before Diwali. “It’s only fitting that the chief minister does the inauguration within a week as he had taken personal interest in the project and even wrote several letters to the Union ministry of environment and forests and NHAI,” he said.

The project had been delayed inordinately although NHAI had selected construction major Madhucon Projects Limited almost one and a half years ago. In April 2011, Ranchi Expressway Ltd, a special purpose vehicle of Madhucon Projects Ltd, had signed the concession agreement with NHAI under built, operate and transfer basis. According to the agreement, work will have to be completed by the concessionaire within 30 months. The company will have to manage and maintain the road for 15 years.

Madhucon officials said they would start work on Rargaon-Mohulia without touching the 15km stretch near Dalma sanctuary that falls under eco-sensitive zone and hence, a clearance was needed from the National Board of Wildlife (NBW). “NBW is a part of the Union ministry. A go-ahead from the ministry means that NBW will also give permission for the 15km stretch,” said a senior official.