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Dharna on bad road

Hazaribagh, Nov. 12: MP Yashwant Sinha withdrew his indefinite dharna to protest against atrocious road conditions on the Barkagaon-Keredari stretch after three hours today following the personal intervention of chief engineer of the road construction department Ram Naresh Raman.

Raman assured Sinha that the 11-km stretch of Barkagaon-Keredari road would be repaired soon, to which Sinha replied that he would be monitoring the progress of work and would not hesitate to sit on dharna again should the promise not be fulfilled.

As Sinha was agitating in Gari village, 40km from the district headquarters, Raman covered 140km from Ranchi to pacify him.

The 11km stretch between Barkagaon and Keredari, which was the main link to Chatra, has been lying in poor shape for the last three years.

Sources said the road was so riddled with potholes and craters that even chief minister Arjun Munda had intervened and sought immediate repairs during his road trip to the region this February.

The contract for road repair had been given to Mukesh Sao, brother of Barkagaon MLA Yogendra Sao, two years ago, but he failed to complete the work. Following a hue and cry, Mukesh’s company Ma Asthbhuji was blacklisted.

Sinha, who had announced the dharna two months ago, started his agitation around 11am with supporters from Hazaribagh, Chatra and Ramgarh. The former external affairs minister said his protest was not a political gimmick but a reaction to the failure of officials to take up repairs. “As a people’s representative, it’s my duty to agitate on issues if work is not done,” he said.

Raman assured Sinha that a Rs 9 crore contract earlier awarded to a local company had been cancelled and a fresh tender would be floated on December 4.

He said a fresh estimate of Rs 13.21 crore had been worked out.

He also announced that pothole filling work would begin within a fortnight and the road made motorable.

Locals expressed the hope that the road would be repaired soon.

“It’s an important link that witnesses huge traffic everyday. With the road in bad shape, people had been facing trouble and a number of accidents have taken place also,” said Naresh Kumar Mehta of Keredari. He added that some craters were big enough to swallow half a small car.