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Hopes for better roads as NHAI comes closer home

Ranchi, Oct. 28: National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is setting up a regional office in Ranch soon to ensure timely completion of various projects worth Rs 3,000 crore in Jharkhand, considered laggard in reaping the benefits of centrally-sponsored road revamp schemes.

With as many as 12 national highways passing through the state with a total road length of over 1,655km, liaison and fund sanctioning work were being handled by the NHAI’s Lucknow regional office that also oversaw projects in neighbouring Bihar.

Now considering the high number of pending projects, the Union ministry of road transport and highways has decided to have a regional office in the state capital.

“We are looking for 4,500sqft space in a prime location of Ranchi, preferably in Ashoknagar or nearby areas,” NHAI project director Awadhesh Kumar told The Telegraph.

“We need to move fast on the regional office which is important for close monitoring of NHAI projects in the state,” added Kumar, who heads NHAI’s Dhanbad and Durgapur (Bengal) project implementation units.

The ministry has already posted two senior officials, Ajay Bishnoy and manager Manoj Kumar Pandey, for the upcoming regional office, which will have more personnel once it’s ready.

A functioning regional office would not only look after projects directly managed and maintained by NHAI, but it would also make it easier for the state national highway wing — under state road construction department — to function far more effectively without having to frequent Lucknow or Delhi to push through decisions.

Most NHAI projects in Jharkhand face land acquisition hurdles as norms followed by the state differ with those followed by the authority.

While state’s land acquisition act suggests advance payment of at least 80 per cent against the price of land acquired, the NH act mandates full payment only after the completion of the acquisition process.

The Ranchi-Hazaribagh four-lane project faced similar hurdles that were removed only after the state relaxed rules in favour of NHAI, that too after the intervention of Union cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar.

The Rs 600 crore-project, the first in Jharkhand and Bihar to be executed under BOT-annuity basis, is expected to start soon with the ministry awarding the work to a consortium of IL&FS Transportation Networks Limited and Punj Lloyd.

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