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Court deadline for NH repair

- Bench says first phase must be over by March 2014

Ranchi, Dec. 3: Jharkhand High Court today asked the state government to furnish a phase-wise report on repair and construction of NH-32 connecting Chandil with neighbouring Bengal at a time the poor condition of highways in the state has sparked strong protests everywhere.

The division bench of Justices D.N. Patel and P.P. Bhatt, who were hearing a PIL on the poor state of NH-32 filed by one Sudhir Mahto in 2011, also set a deadline for the first phase of work, saying that it ought to be completed by March 2014.

Work has been pending for a long time and if officials donít complete the work, then the court will be forced to conduct an inspection, the bench said.

The state of NH-33 also came up for discussion after some advocates pointed out that a 130km stretch between Ranchi and Jamshedpur was equally deplorable. A drive down the road, which normally should take two hours, now stretches to nearly five hours, they complained.

The bench then extended the scope of the PIL to include NH-33 and directed National Highways Authority of Indiaís (NHAI) project director to submit a work plan for repairing the highway from Barhi to Bahragora through Hazaribagh, Ranchi and Jamshedpur. It also asked the NHAI to spell out a time frame within which it intends to complete the work to ensure a smooth ride for vehicles.

Coming down heavily on government officials for failing to take proper care of the stateís infrastructure, the court observed that they had become lethargic.

The government employees are responsible for construction and maintaining proper roads in the state, which they have failed to do, the judges said.

Advocate-general R.S. Majumdar, who was arguing on behalf of the state, informed the court that repair of NH-32 was on and would be completed in phases.

The government also presented a bar graph chart on the proposed work.

The case will be again heard on December 9.