Hit directly or indirectly by the “non-motorable” NH-33 link between Jamshedpur and Ranchi, over 200 entrepreneurs and members of trade outfits on Sunday staged a hunger strike near Pardih Kali Mandir, 5km from steel city limits.
Members of Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), Adityapur Small Industries’ Association (ASIA), Jamshedpur Transport Welfare Association, Builders’ Association of India (Jamshedpur chapter) and owners of highway hotels and resorts sat on dharna between 11am and 3.30pm to rouse the state from its alleged apathy.
“The government should repair the NH-33 immediately. An arterial link between Ranchi and Jamshedpur, it is one of the most busy highways of the state and its health affects many businesses in the area,” said Suresh Sonthalia, president of SCCI.
Entrepreneur Raja Singh, who owns Wave International, one of the key hotels on the highway, expressed dismay.
“I don’t know why the sorry condition of the highway fails to attract the attention of ministers who travel on it. Common people suffer while commuting on the stretch riddled with potholes and craters. The worst hit are transporters as heavy vehicles often breakdown due to the highway’s pathetic condition,” he said.
He also added the hospitality industry around the highway suffered as revellers chose less painful rides to other destinations.
“Though we carry out renovation and add new infrastructure at regular intervals, due to the sorry condition of the highway customer footfall has fallen,” he said.
Senior SCCI functionary Bharat Vasani said they would review the situation on October 22. “If we see that nothing has changed, we will be forced to intensify our agitation after Diwali,” he said.
Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (JVM), during simultaneous meetings in Jamshedpur and Ghatshila on Sunday, chalked out a strategy on Sunday for the upcoming 48-hour economic blockade on October 26 and 27 over the dilapidated condition of NH-33.
Senior party leaders, including Dulal Bhuiyan, decided to stage an agitation on the highway between Pardih and Baharagora, a stretch of about 100km. A two-hour trip from Jamshedpur to Baharagora now takes seven hours.
Central secretary of JVM Abhay Singh confirmed party chief Babulal Marandi’s nod for the agitation. Singh and another party leader Feroz Khan will take part in the stir in Pardih. Jamshedpur MP Ajoy Kumar and Dinesh Sarangi will lead the agitation in Baharagora.