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‘Whims’ delay wider artery

- Tata-Kandra’s slim chance

What is holding up completion of the Tata-Kandra four-lane project? Double standard of the road construction department, whispers the grapevine.

The 185.5 crore ambitious plan to open a wider vehicular artery, which had an original deadline of March 2012, is trundling for months ostensibly because of encroachments along its service lanes. Now, the allegation is that while road bosses are allowing construction in some areas despite land crunch, at other places they are deferring work on the pretext of unavailability of adequate area.

Result: the Jharkhand Accelerated Road Development Company Limited (JARDCL) is unable to officially throw open the main carriageway, which is lying ready.

The project blueprint shows that the service lanes ideally should be 15ft wide. According to JARDCL sources, a stretch near S-Type in Adityapur is only 11ft wide. The road department apparently prodded construction on this narrow stretch after an individual encroacher, Sitaram Singh, relegated his claim.

On the other hand, the department is not allowing work on a 14ft-wide stretch available in front of Satpathy Building near Sher-e-Punjab Chowk for almost a year now.

Senior manager of JARDCL Vinod Tripathy conceded that the width of the service lane near S-Type was “very, very narrow” and that they were ready to do the job in front of Satpathy Building too. “But, it is upto the road department to give the go-ahead,” he said.

Tripathy added that they could carry out service lane work till the advent of monsoon, which usually keeps a June 15 date with Jharkhand.

Incidentally, the Seraikela-Kharsawan administration had dismantled a portion of the building in question in December last year to make way for the service lane.

Owners of the building moved Jharkhand High Court, seeking a stay on any further demolition work. The case is pending.

“We do not have any objection to construction of the service lane on land already available. We have always co-operated and had even donated a large chunk of land for the 15.3km Tata-Kandra project in the very beginning. The road department has double standard,” claimed one of the proprietors of Satpathy Building.

Executive engineer of road construction (Adityapur) Sanjay Kumar Singh cited a court judgement for the alleged arbitrary decision. “In the Sitaram Singh case, Jharkhand High Court gave its verdict. In the Satpathy Building case, we are waiting for court order,” he said.

“We approached the high court seeking intervention against further demolition of our building. The 14ft in question is not under litigation,” said Rinku Satpathy, one of the owners of Satpathy Building.

Seraikela-Kharsawan deputy commissioner Hansraj Singh promised to talk to the engineer and see if the matter could be sorted out.

The Tata-Kandra four-lane is being set up on PPP basis. Once completed, the road department will earn more revenue because it will be able collect toll tax from commercial vehicles.