A giant hole on NH-100 near Vishnugarh in Hazaribagh poses peril for commuters on Sunday. (Vishvendu Jaipuriar)
Beware of NH-100, if you are travelling between Giridih and Chatra via Hazaribagh.
This sinister highway kills at will — at least half a dozen people die every month — and is amply aided by the collective negligence of laggard road construction mandarins and callous contractors.
The 119km dilapidated stretch, which is the oil and coal artery of northeast Jharkhand, has seen more than 500 minor and major accidents in 17 months and continues to lust for blood in the absence of much-needed revamp. Seven persons died between Giridih and Hazaribagh in October alone.
In June 2011, the Centre sanctioned a corpus of Rs 70 crore to repair the said length of highway from Bagoder in Giridih to Simaria in Chatra.
The NH division of the state road construction department awarded the contract to five agencies — Nandlal Construction, Classic Engicom, Narayan Construction, KCP Project and Sunny Construction — with the deadline for completion being a year.
But, since a considerable stretch of the highway meanders through Maoist strongholds, work never began in the right earnest. The result is a nightmarish ride in the name of highway travel.
Mahesh Ram of Galhobar village in Hazaribagh said riddled with potholes and craters, NH-100 was a death trap for bikers at night. “Accidents, many of which are fatal, are routine on the highway. A disaster of greater magnitude is waiting to happen if the authorities do not rise from slumber,” he said, adding how inflammable trucks from Indian Oil Limited’s factory in Gomia (Bokaro) negotiated NH-100 to ferry consignments to other states via GT Road.
Farmer Bholanath Mahto claimed the road was in its worst condition between Hazaribagh and Chatra. Heavy vehicles like coal trucks from Bokaro and Dhanbad use this NH-100 link, while passenger vehicles from even Calcutta frequent the important stretch.
“More than 2,000 small and big vehicles ply on this highway every day. It is surprising that authorities will take the peril we are exposed to so lightly,” pointed out another villager of Tatijharia block.
RJD’s Hazaribagh district president Bhuvaneshwar Patel insisted that the condition of the highway was not always bad. “The road hosts the training centre of the BSF in Meru (Hazaribagh). The condition was good, but maintenance infrequent. The last time the road was repaired was two years ago, he said.
The mishap magnet highway, which crosses different blocks of Hazaribagh, including Vishnugarh, Tatijharia, Daru and Sadar, has had seen political interventions in the recent past, but to no avail.
From prods by local MP Yashwant Sinha to BJP leader and former food and supplies minister Deo Dayal Kushwaha’s Saturday ultimatum to the road department to start the project within a week, nothing has been forceful enough to get work underway.
NH executive engineer K.K. Lal was an example of optimism. “Five agencies have been awarded the repair work of the 119km stretch. In a week, work will start on a war footing with adequate manpower and machine. We are hoping to complete the project by the end of next year,” he said.
What do you think is delaying NH-100 revamp?