Trailers plying on NH-33 generate a cloud of dust on the stretch on Monday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
After pothole perils, it is dusty troubles for a stretch of NH-33 between Saharbera and Pardih in Jamshedpur.
An eight-kilometre stretch on the highway, which connects the industrial town of Jamshedpur with state capital Ranchi, is kicking up a dust storm for hundreds of commuters who negotiate it daily on two and three-wheelers.
According to sources, Hyderabad-based Madhucon Project Limited had been appointed by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to execute four-laning of NH-33 and conduct repair work on the pothole-ridden stretch of the highway on January 8 last year.
According to an agreement signed, the construction company was to complete the project at a cost of Rs 1,479 crore within a period of 30 months starting November 9, 2012.
The company then also had the onus of managing and maintaining the road for a period of 15 years once the construction work was over.
The concessionaire, as per the agreement, had started patching up the stretch using a road grader (a construction machine with a long blade used to create a flat surface), a roller, a water tanker and two tippers (dump trucks). All the potholes, which had become a backbreaking nightmare for motorists were levelled using stone chips, slag and sand at an estimated cost of Rs 5 lakh by the company on January 20.
However, soon after the completion of patchwork, the stone chips started disintegrating with the slag and sand getting exposed due to the heavy traffic flow, kicking up a cloud of dust each time a heavy vehicle traversed the stretch.
The dust clouds kills the visibility of commuters tailing a heavy vehicle and also increases the chances of them developing respiratory problems if they do not cover their faces properly.
The disintegrated stone chips also add to the peril, acting as mini-missiles under the tyres of a truck and flying off in random directions.
Montu Singh, a resident of Bhuiyandih recounted a close shave he had to The Telegraph on Monday.
“I was on my way back from Dalma Wildlife sanctuary when I saw a long-distance bus speeding towards me from the opposite direction. I tried to swerve out of the way but my bike skidded due to the loose gravel on the road. Fortunately, the bus slowed down and I could move out of harm’s way. Otherwise I would have been run over,” Singh said.
Echoing Singh was Telco-based school teacher Mousumi Adhikari who had gone to Fadlugora to visit her relatives. “The dust on the road was flying everywhere and it gave me a bout of asthma. I had my face covered with a handkerchief, but it did not help,” Adhikari said.
Contacted, Madhucon Project Limited’s manager Randip Kumar, who is supervising the repairs, said they wanted to make the stretch motorable till the road was widened. “We filled up all the potholes. We usually spray water on it twice a day to kill the dust. We will look into the matter and put some bitumen on the stretch to get rid of the problem,” Kumar said.