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NH revamp left in lurch
- Firm dumps Rs 940cr project

Ranchi, June 5: A Calcutta-based construction company has backed out of the Jamshedpur-Kharagpur highway link widening project two years after bagging it, citing pending forest clearances and land acquisition glitches.

Simplex Infrastructures Ltd has written to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) headquarters in Delhi, saying it was unable to execute the Rs 940-crore four-lane project involving 127km of national highways Nos. 33 and 6 covering Jharkhand and Bengal.

A source in NHAI said Simplex, appointed the project concessionaire under build-operate-transfer (toll) in 2012, had not got a date of appointment — or time from when it could start groundwork — as forest clearances and land acquisition were held up.

According to Central Vigilance Commission norms, the NHAI can give the appointment letter to a firm on contract only when forest clearances are obtained and 80 per cent land needed is acquired.

The onus of readying forest clearances lies mainly with the Centre, while the state government is responsible for acquiring land.

“Simplex wrote to NHAI recently saying it would not be able to execute the four-lane work. NHAI may have to go for a fresh tender. Finalisation of a new agency will take time,” an NHAI official said, requesting anonymity.

Covering the dilapidated Mahulia-Baharagora-Kharagpur stretch, 71km of the project falls in Jharkhand and 56km in Bengal. The proposed widening covered two sections, Mahulia-Baharagora on NH-33 and Baharagora-Kharagpur on NH-6.

Close on the heels of this fallout, NHAI is also concerned over the slow pace of widening work on the NH-33 link of Ranchi-Jamshedpur. Ranchi-based project director of NHAI Awadhesh Kumar told The Telegraph that Delhi headquarters is “already concerned” over the slow pace of work executed by construction major Madhucon Projects Limited, which last year was appointed the concessionaire for the Rs 1,500-crore project.

“The overall deadline for the project is June 2015, which we doubt would be realised,” said Kumar, who was in Delhi earlier this week and inspected the site today with NHAI chief general manager Rabindra Kumar.