A heavy vehicle hits a water-filled crater on NH-33 near Dimna, Jamshedpur, while a two-wheeler (below) skirts equally daunting holes on the highway. Pictures by Bhola Prasad
Smooth rides have made way for bone-rattling ones yet again along a 6km stretch of NH-33, the lifeline connecting Jamshedpur with Ranchi.
Craters — as deep as two feet in some places — have resurfaced on the arterial road between Dimna (in Jamshedpur) and Kanderbera (near Chandil in Seraikela-Kharsawan district), which was repaired for big money not too long ago.
Hyderabad-based Madhucon Projects Limited, the concessionaire entrusted with the job to widen NH-33 into four lanes for Rs 1,479 crore, had first repaired a 163km stretch between Ranchi and Mohulia, near Jamshedpur, in January this year. But, two months of rainfall, particularly the heavy bouts last week, have been enough to expose the shoddy work done.
More than 10,000 heavy vehicles, apart from nearly 30,000 SUVs, cars and bikes, cross this NH-33 stretch every day. And, it goes without saying that truck drivers and motorists are not a contented lot.
“Gaadi chalana bahut mushkil ho raha hai. Bahut bada-bada gaddha ho gaya hai. July mein hi road ka condition kharab ho gaya; aage kya hoga? Gaadi ka breakdown daily ho raha hai (It is very difficult to drive on this stretch. The craters are very deep. The road condition has deteriorated by July; what will happen during the coming monsoon months? Breakdown of vehicles is a regular affair,” said Mukesh Sandil, a trucker from Bhojpur, Bihar.
A senior official of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in Jharkhand, Manoj Pandey, said that concessionaire Madhucon had been asked to expedite four-laning work and also repair the stretch concerned, “as it was expected that potholes will surface in rainy season”.
“We have asked them (Madhucon officials) to overhaul the 6km stretch between Dimna and Kanderbera instead of doing patchwork repair, which can never withstand heavy rain owing to poor quality of soil underneath,” Pandey said.
Madhucon executives, on the other hand, rued funds crunch for the slow pace of widening work in the Jamshedpur-Ranchi zone of NH-33, but promised that craters would be plugged soon.
“We spent around Rs 12 crore in repairing the 163km road between Ranchi and Mohulia, with special emphasis on the stretch between Dimna and Chandil, which cost Rs 7.5 crore earlier this year. We had planned to complete construction of a new lane and shift traffic before repairing the old one, but shortage of funds has hampered progress of our work,” said senior project manager of Madhucon Uday Kumar.
He, however, said they would not let things reach an alarming level. “We have got our plant functional in Rangamati and are fully equipped to start bitumen carpeting if we get a brief dry spell. We have completed 60km of four-laning work near Bundu and Tamar, and hope to complete the rest (103km) by April 2016,” Kumar added.
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