The Telegraph
Thursday , November 22 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Past blocks road to future
1926-era pipe sinks bridge deadline

Call it a historical hurdle.

The 1.67km flyover over Namkum railway crossing is almost ready but a water pipe dated 1926, which the construction agency stumbled upon, may delay the project by a couple of months.

This pipeline passes near the gate of Reproductive Child Healthcare (RCH) Centre, 500 metres from the railway crossing on NH-33. It has been supplying water from the Subernarekha to Indian Institute of Natural Resin and Gums (IINRG), Namkum, formerly Lac Research Institute, set up in 1924.

Strangely, in the hurly-burly of building a Rs 46-crore flyover, no one — mandarins of the road construction or drinking water and sanitation departments — remembered the archaeological artefact of a water pipe.

“Around 20 days ago when our men were clearing land to expand the road, they chanced upon this pipe. No one had told us about its existence. Later, we came to know that IINRG gets water supply through the pipe laid in 1926,” said an engineer engaged in constructing the flyover.

Providentially, the nearly-nine-decades-old pipe has nine lives. It wasn’t damaged with all the digging in front of the RCH Centre.

But senior project engineer Rezi Kuriakose pointed out several tangible problems.

“There are some trees near the pipe. So unless it is relocated, we can’t cleanly uproot the trees. If we do so, the pipe will get damaged. If we don’t uproot the trees along with their roots, they will slowly rot and damage the road,” he said.

The flyover — “95 per cent complete” say engineers — will help vehicles on Ranchi-Jamshedpur highway run unhindered over the Namkum railway crossing.

But the project has met with a lot of hindrances. Kicking off in 2008-end, the project carried out by Modi Private Ltd had a deadline of October 2010. Tardy progress did the deadline in. Jharkhand High Court, while hearing a PIL on the delayed flyover, set a new deadline of March 31, 2011.

Even that was missed.

A new deadline of December 31, 2012, was set. But the pipe will derail this too. “We can complete the work by next January,” Kuriakose said.

“The pipeline dated 1926 has to be relocated first. Only then can road widening work take place. In all this, the project may get delayed by about a month or so,” said Rajiv Lochan, executive engineer of NH division, Ranchi.

Insiders say that pipes have been the project’s pet peeve.

Last year, another set of pipes — around 40 years old — that cut through the highway and veered on the left to supply water to Namkum army cantonment near the railway crossing, had reportedly slowed down work. The agency’s engineers had to relocate the pipes.

Which department is at fault for forgetting the pipe?