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Highway widening in land fix

Around 20 acres of land are posing a huge hurdle for expansion of Ramgarh-Dhanbad Highway, which passes via Bokaro and Chas township.

While the Bokaro administration has managed to acquire 180 out of 200 acres to develop the highway into four lanes, compensation claims and forest clearances for the remaining 20 acres are delaying the Rs 700-crore project.

A 76km stretch — 43km of NH-23 from Ramgarh to Chas and 33km of NH-32 from Chas to Dhanbad — is being expanded under the project.

According to sources, a number of land owners are not happy with the compensation offered by the administration and are demanding a better package for giving away their plots that fall in Chas subdivision. With villagers refusing to budge from their stand, the district administration has engaged local gram panchayats in talks to clear the bottleneck.

If that was not enough, the forest department has raised objections over acquisition of around 20 decimal land spread over four villages in Chas.

Sources said these plots initially belonged to Bokaro Steel Plant, which later handed them over to the district administration. However, while seeking the forest clearance for the project, the district administration could not produce proper documents.

“The administration sent a proposal to the forest department for clearance around two weeks ago. But last Friday, the forest department sent back the file, seeking clarification for a few plots in Chas subdivision,” said a official with the district administration.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Chas SDO S.N. Ram said a major portion of the land had already been acquired and the problems pertaining to the remaining 20 acres would be resolved fast.

“With regard to 20 decimal land, we will send the requisite documents to the forest department soon to get the clearance. As for the compensation issue, we are following the guidelines set by the government. The entire process is very transparent and we don’t have any pick-and-choose policy. We will start the work soon to meet the deadline,” he said.

According to the National Highway Authority of India’s plan, work should be completed by 2017. Once the highway is expanded, it will take around four hours to drive from Ranchi to Dhanbad (about 170km), via Ramgarh, against the existing time of six hours.