The Telegraph
Tuesday , May 13 , 2014
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Konar ban on trucks hits bottomlines, NH lifeline choked

- Road department to seek expert advice on repair of 150-year-old bridge in Hazaribagh

Hazaribagh, May 12: An official ban on movement of heavy vehicles, including trucks, through the dilapidated Konar Bridge in Hazaribagh is causing huge jams on the NH-33, while the forced detour is shooting up cost of transportation manifold for businesses.

Mukundgunj, the industrial hub of Hazaribagh, is only 3km from the bridge. However, trucks coming from the state capital through Ranchi-Patna highway now have to make a detour of 200km via Ramgarh, Gomia (Bokaro) and Vishnugarh to reach Hazaribagh town.

Notably, the local administration prohibited trucks from May 8 evening after cracks were detected on the bridge.

This extra 200km journey is burning a hole in pockets of local businessmen.

Abhishek Sinha, who runs a furniture manufacturing unit, brings raw materials from Delhi.

“My unit is only a few kilometres from the bridge. But, the ban is forcing the trucks to take the new 200km-long route. This has increased the cost by Rs 15,000 per truck,” he added.

Sinha added it was so difficult to survive in the price-sensitive market. “But the ban has forced us to increase the prices of finished products,” he explained.

A rice mill owner said they too were facing the same problem. “We get supplies of paddy from states, like Bihar and Odisha, and the Konar problem has reduced our profit margins,” he said, adding that they were incurring a loss of Rs15,000-20,000 per truck.

In fact, businessmen in districts like Ramgarh and Ranchi are also bearing the brunt.

They get supplies of various raw materials from states like Bengal, Bihar and Odisha and all consignments pass trough the same route.

Lack of promptness on part of the administration is adding to their woes, apart from creating jams on the NH-33 near the bridge.

In view of the existing curbs, trucks coming from Ranchi need to turn towards the new diverted route from Ramgarh. “However, in the absence of any board or policeman, trucks are coming all the way to Konar only to be sent back to Ramgarh, around 50km from the bridge,” said a local trader.

This, he added, not only adding to transportation costs, but also causing huge jams.

People in Hazaribagh said the administration should have taken into account all aspects before deciding on the route via Vishnugarh-Gomia-Ramgarh.

According to them, there is a shorter route — vehicles will have to travel only 15km extra — via Harhad and Narsingha Sthan Temple Road, only 2km before the bridge.

Executive engineer Om Prakash Yadav of the road construction department said he had seen the Harhad-Narsingha Sthan route.

“But, it becomes narrow at a few places and trucks will not be able to move. I also went to see another route via St. Columba’s College to Harangunj area but this stretch also is not suitable for trucks,” he claimed.

He said he would write to his department higher-ups today, requesting for a team of experts to repair Konar bridge. “Only experts can say whether repair is possible,” he added.