Reported by Benudhar Behera
Joda, Feb 23:
Fifteen years after the Union government approved the National Highway 215 in Odisha, the lifeline in the mineral belt of the state lies in tatters. While thousands of trucks ply on the road passing through the mining area, the poor condition of the road frequntly leads to accidents, loss of life and property.
The highway got the nod from the Union government in 2000 after a sustained demand by the residents of Keonjhar spread over years. A proposal for four-laning of this all important road was also approved later in a bid to improve the traffic congestion on the busy Joda- Barbil section.
A contract was signed for building the road in the Build-Operate-Transfer mode in two phases. However, the negligence of Odisha Steel Expressway Pvt Ltd, which has undertaken the construction between Rajamunda and Rimuli, has stalled the construction.
OST found that the company had sub-contracted the project to four other companies since 2010. None of these subcontractors were able to finish the work on schedule. Instead, the dug up road causes huge inconvenience to commuters and routinely leads to accidents.
One such company, McNally Bharat, hasn’t paid the workers and other service providers. Fortune Associates, a small company employed by McNally, has gone bankrupt following the blocking of payment, said Lohit Kumar Mohanty on behalf of Fortune Associates.
As of now, construction work on the road has stopped completely. The future of the project doesn’t look very bright either.
It may be noted that residents of blocks such as Joda, Champua and Jhumpura, who are at the receiving end of this negligence, have met the collector and have served him a warning that theyw ould go on a protest if the construction does not resume soon.
Twelve councillors of Joda NAC, along with the residents of the city, have also submitted a written memorandum to the Keonjhar district administration threatening to block the roads on March 3, if the construction of NH-215 doesn’t resume by then.