A cave-in at Sivandih culvert on NH-23, 5km from Bokaro, on Wednesday. Picture by Pankaj Singh
Commuting to Ranchi and Ramgarh will remain a challenge for residents of Bokaro for at least another three weeks.
A Phailin damage assessment on Wednesday revealed that the 50-feet cyclone-ravaged stretch of NH-23 — a communication artery for the three districts — at Sivandih is unlikely to be fixed before 21 days.
Also, a possible diversion, some 100 metres away from the wrecked highway, will take a fortnight or so to become functional because it will have to be built from scratch.
Currently, both private and commercial vehicles are taking a more than 20km detour to reach the state capital from the steel city. On the other hand, highway link to Ramgarh remains virtually severed since a peripheral current of cyclone Phailin tore through Jharkhand early on Sunday.
Gale winds at 80kmph were accompanied by heavy rain that washed away several bridges and culverts, wrecking Bokaro’s travel network. Portions of the four-decade-old Sivandih culvert on NH-23, 5km from the city, caved in or developed cracks, prompting the district administration to restrict traffic movement.
Iron trader D.K. Gupta pointed out that the normal distance between Bokaro and Ramgarh via Sivandih was 80km. “But now, my trucks are travelling more than 150km via Dhanbad and Barhi. A diversion is the need of the hour,” he said.
Similarly, the normal distance between Bokaro and Ranchi is 103km, while the detour via Chas More, Muri and Silli burns fuel for 22km more.
Elaborating on the civil challenges, deputy commissioner Uma Shankar Singh said repair of the NH-23 culvert would be possible only after the diversion was constructed.
“But, the diversion itself will take time because the proposed site is fed by waste water from Bokaro Steel. Plant officials and NH engineers are drawing up a plan to fix the problem,” Singh said.
“It will take a minimum of 15 days for construction of the diversion. People will have to bear with us,” he added.