| Residents protest the move to start work on the Ganga driveway project at Khajekalan ghat on Friday. Picture by Sachin |
Construction of the Ganga driveway at Khajekalan Ghat hit a roadblock on Friday after residents stalled the move to start work over non-payment of compensation.
Construction of the driveway is being carried out by Hyderabad-based Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd at an estimated cost of Rs 2,234.46 crore.
The residents forced construction officials to retreat from the site. The protest took place in the afternoon when construction company officials went to the site along with their drilling machines.
Around hundred residents gathered at the site and started protesting against the officials. They even threatened them to leave the site.
Work on the Ganga driveway (21.5km), which aims at connecting the west and east ends of Patna, began on October 11 when chief minister Nitish Kumar laid the foundation stone at Digha Ghat (near rail-cum-road bridge).
Just four months down the line, the project has faced its first hurdle.
Bhuvneshwar Rai (45), whose 1.5 cottah of land has been acquired for the project by the road construction department, said: “Till now, I have not received my compensation. When the department officials had come to acquire my land, they had told me I would get the compensation soon. However, it’s already been a year, but I still have not got any compensation.”
He also said: “Khajekalan Ghat falls under the jurisdiction of Saran district. We have met the deputy collector of land reforms (DCLR), Sonepur, in this regard but didn’t get any proper reply.”
Another resident, Shyam Babu Gupta (65), said: “The state government has acquired four acres of my land but not paid the compensation yet. We will not allow the construction work to carry on until and unless the government pays us the compensation amount. The attitude of the government is not good. We are not against the project. We want to see the Ganga driveway but we won’t tolerate if someone takes our land away from us without paying us compensation for it.”
The project was scheduled to be completed in four years. The managing director of the Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd, C. Sridhar, had claimed the project would get completed much before the set deadline of August 22, 2017.
However, following the protest by the residents on Friday, the company might miss the deadline.
A representative of the company, on condition of anonymity, said: “Our officials went at the site to start the drilling work for soil testing.
“The construction work cannot start without soil testing. Now, with the residents protesting, we are afraid that the project will be delayed by five to six months if the issue is not resolved immediately.”
While speaking to The Telegraph, the road construction department secretary Pratyaya Amrit said: “I am not aware of this issue. However as far as compensation is concerned, it is in process
“I don’t know how much time it will take because money is sent to the district concerned and now it is up to the district magistrate to look after the matter.”
The Saran district magistrate Kundan Kumar couldn’t be contacted for comments.