A stretch of NH-75 near Daltonganj in Palamau shows construction work on the highway is far from complete. Picture by Saikat Chatterjee
Ranchi, Jan. 4: Union minister of rural development Jairam Ramesh has shot off a letter to Union highways and road transport minister C.P. Joshi and chief minister Arjun Munda, asking for immediate steps to repair an “extremely bad” NH-75 — the lifeline of the rebel-hit Palamau commissionary he had toured recently.
Ramesh, who has minced no words to express his dismay at the pitiable condition of the highway in his letter dated January 3, has urged Joshi to look into the matter and do whatever is necessary to expedite pace of modernisation of NH-75.
During his last visit to Jharkhand, the minister had toured the Naxalite-affected districts of Latehar, Palamau and Garhwa.
“Along a long stretch that I travelled on NH-75, there is a series of potholes with short stretches of road in between. I understand contracts have already been awarded for various stretches, but I saw no evidence of work in progress. Besides, I saw work left half done which added to the hazards of travelling on the highway,” Ramesh has written in his letter.
In June 2012, former water resources minister Ramchandra Kesri brought the poor state of NH-75 between Ranchi and Garhwa to the notice of Jharkhand High Court. A public interest litigation filed by Kesri pointed out that the road, which has 153 culverts, had been dug up but construction was yet to be completed.
Pune-based M/s Patil Constructions, one of the two firms which was assigned the task of renovation of the highway two years ago, allegedly subcontracted the project to petty contractors.
When contacted, engineer in chief of the road construction department Ram Naresh Raman iterated security concerns in the Naxalite-hit districts.
“There is no ideal condition to work for contractors. No construction is carried out at night, while work also gets disrupted due to some hindrance or the other,” he said, expressing inability to pinpoint the progress of work on NH-75.
Along with Patil Constructions, Raipur-based Messers Sanjay Agrawal had been awarded the Rs 170-crore contract for the project on NH-75.
The deadline to complete the project is January 2013.
But according to chief engineer of road construction department Murari Bhagat, only about 45 per cent work was complete until a fortnight ago.
The project is being funded by the Union home ministry under its special infrastructure revamp in left-wing extremism affected areas.
The NH wing of the state road construction department is executing the project that is being monitored by the Union ministry of highways and road transport.
Saranda road review
The West Singhbhum district authorities and forest department officials today held a meeting to review construction of roads in rebel stronghold Saranda under the Centre’s Saranda Action Plan. Representatives of six road construction firms attended the four-hour meeting, where West Singhbhum DC K. Srinivashan, SP Pankaj Kamboj, divisional forest officer, Saranda, K.K. Tiwary and CRPF commandants were present.