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Bus terminus in deadline trap

In Jharkhand, projects are always about one step forward and two steps backward.

On the one hand, the power-starved state is mulling to run the multi-crore interstate bus terminus in Khadgarha, Ranchi, on solar energy; on the other hand, a sudden deadline shift has shocked the executing agency to vocal mutiny that threatens to scuttle plans.

Chief executive officer of Ranchi Municipal Corporation Manoj Kumar, inspecting the revamp work at Khadgarha on Wednesday, sounded an August 15 do-or-die deadline, three months before the original schedule.

While RMC insiders defend the move saying that chief minister Hemant Soren wants to inaugurate the terminus before the model code of conduct comes into force for the Assembly elections, executing agency RS Aggarwal Infratech Private Limited has dubbed the target “unrealistic”. It has underscored that undue pressure would only mean compromising on quality of work.

After a decade of dilly-dallying, the RMC had on May 30 last year put the 18-acre Khadgarha terminus, until then synonymous with muck and mess, on the revamp mode. Since Jharkhand was under President’s Rule at that time, Governor Syed Ahmed set an 18-month deadline for completion of the project worth over Rs 10 crore.

On the fresh deadline, CEO Kumar said it was achievable. “One can do it if one wants to. Much of the building construction work is complete. Other site problems have been addressed today. I have directed the agency to double workforce, if needed, to meet the new deadline,” he said.

According to the detailed report prepared by city-based architecture firm Chadda & Associates, the proposed terminus is expected to boast 19 bus bays, a parking zone with the capacity to host 100 vehicles at a time, dormitories, offices for travel agencies and food plaza among other things.

“It will be a state-of-the-art facility. The most interesting feature of the terminus will be that it will run on renewable energy of the sun. Hence, bus schedules will not be disturbed during power failure,” said architect Rajiv Chadda.

Claiming to have solved bottlenecks on Wednesday, Kumar said: “Underground water pipes have been affecting civil work. We have planned a ducting system before raising pillars so that the drinking water and sanitation department can mend pipe leaks in the future.”

Site officials also raised the issue of a boundary wall, which was overlapping with the department’s office. “That too has been sorted out. We have decided to leave a 5ft gap for easy access. The RMC will do whatever is needed to finish the project by August 15,” Kumar said.

RS Aggarwal Infratech thinks otherwise.

“Firstly, even after laying the foundation stone last May, we could begin actual work in January because the RMC took time to hand over the site. Secondly, policy paralysis at government level over sand stalled supply for two-three months. In five months, two-thirds of the G+1 building has come up. We are at good pace keeping the original November deadline in mind. But, an August 15 target is unrealistic,” said Ravi Aggarwal, a senior partner of the firm.

He added that they too wanted to complete the job as soon as possible, but the RMC lacked co-ordination efforts. “We still don’t have the entire site in possession. Decisions taken on Wednesday were all verbal and not on paper. The RMC is silent on encroachment. So, how can it expect us to complete a six-month job in just two months? We can only try.”

Be it a debut in August or November, for thousands of passengers it will be another nightmare of a monsoon at Khadgarha.