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Tata freeway stares at squatter bump

The widening project of the 9km-long Marine Drive along Subernarekha and Kharkai in Jamshedpur looks likely to miss its June 2014 deadline due to what might snowball into a major issue in the coming days — an anti-encroachment drive.

Part of Tata Steel’s ambitious eastern-western corridor project, expected to cost over Rs 1,350 crore, widening of the Rs 120-crore western corridor was supposed to be ready by June.

But evicting 200 squatters and their shanties from a 3km stretch between Satighat (Kadma) and Jharkhand Nagar (Sonari) on the Marine Drive will be a major hurdle, the company fears.

These fears are not unfounded because East Singhbhum district administration, which had assured Tata Steel on April 25, Friday, that it would conduct a week-long anti-encroachment drive beginning April 28, Monday, could not do so.

Dhalbhum subdivisional officer Prem Ranjan admitted that anti-encroachment drive was a non-starter on Monday.

“We had decided on a drive between April 28 and May 4 but couldn’t begin due to lack of proper preparation,” he said. Asked when they planned to start, he said “soon” but did not specify a date.

A bureaucrat who did not want to come on record said a fresh anti-encroachment drive would start only after Lok Sabha election results were out on May 16.

Insiders are also speculating on political pressure in the anti-encroachment drive on the days ahead.

A senior officer of Tata Steel’s logistics department, carrying out the western corridor project, expressed fear that widening of Marine Drive might not be complete by June as planned.

“Encroachment is a major hurdle. It exists. It is holding up our plans,” the Tata executive said. “We will again approach the district administration to carry out the anti-encroachment drive as soon as possible,” he said.

One side of the Marine Drive work, which kicked off in 2012, is almost ready.

Once ready, Marine Drive will link Adityapur toll bridge on one side and Mango bridge on the other end. It will be the main artery between Adityapur industrial area in Seraikela-Kharsawan and NH-33 via Jamshedpur in east Singhbhum. It will also ease the pressure of heavy vehicles off city roads.


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