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Dusty drive to development

Carmel Junior College ninth grader Nidhi (14), a resident of Vijaya Heritage in Kadma, Jamshedpur, complained of respiratory distress and had to be rushed to a doctor on Wednesday

Class IV student Aakarsh Choudhary (10), also a resident of the complex, suffers from bouts of nasal congestion and is a frequent visitor to a Bistupur-based nursing home

Kadma homemaker Kavita Agarwal refuses to send her 16-year-old daughter Julie, a Class X student of DBMS English School, to tuition on a scooter because she apprehends mishap on the dark and dusty road

These are a few examples of how the delay in widening a 10km stretch of road, which is a part of the Rs 120-crore western corridor project of Tata Steel, is adversely affecting people who live along the Marine Drive.

Over 20 residential complexes, including posh addresses like Vijaya Heritage, Srinath Residency and Awas Marina, as well as MIG homes and urban slums dot the dusty stretch.

Widening work of the dual carriageway had started in 2012 and was expected to finish by June this year. But, as of now, vehicles are able to ply only on one congested side while the other is under construction and hence, uneven and boulder-riddled.

As and when ready, the Marine Drive will link Adityapur Toll Bridge and Mango bridge. It will be the key artery between Adityapur industrial area in Seraikela-Kharsawan and NH-33 via Jamshedpur in East Singhbhum. It will also ease pressure of heavy vehicles on city roads.

“When is the question. Currently, the entire road is in a mess and is making everyone, especially the elderly and the children, breathe uneasy. Dust hangs heavy in the air whenever a vehicle passes by. Also, there is no light on the entire stretch, which is narrow too. Commuting is unsafe after dusk. Unfortunately, Marine Drive is the only road for us,” said Asha Gupta, a resident of Vijaya Heritage.

Aakarsh’s mother Nupur Choudhary, a member of Vijaya Heritage Residents’ Welfare Association, said the rains had settled the dust for the time being but had compounded woes. “Boulders being used in the construction are damaging the chassis of cars. Traffic snarls and accidents, fortunately not fatal, are common too now,” she said, adding that the main reason behind congestion was a heavy vehicle getting caught in the muck.

A senior official of Tata Steel’s logistics department claimed encroached pockets were delaying completion of widening work. “We have written to the administration on the matter,” he said.

On air pollution, he added: “We have plugged potholes and pressed a water tanker into service. Water is sprayed every two hours to keep the air clean. We will ready one carriageway by mid-July and the dual project before Diwali.”

He also promised to install floodlights at strategic locations as a stopgap arrangement for residents.

East Singhbhum additional deputy commissioner Ganesh Kumar promised proactive measures to curb pollution.

He said they would write to regional JSPCB officer R.N. Choudhary seeking an air pollution status on Marine Drive within a week. He added that the administration would also writing to Tata Steel managing director T.V. Narendran urging him to expedite road widening work and ensure proper lighting after dusk.

Kumar, however, did not comment on the encroachment issue.


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