Travelling from Jabli towards Dharampur on NH22 one comes through kilometres of landslides, and dust. Only to be irritated by the lack of direction sign age, unwanted bifurcations and the fear of some rock falling on the vehicle. The same gets even worse in the night, without proper light and the police personal.
Sources reveal, that the executing company has informed NHAI that it has little exposure in handling such a project in hills. Therefore several issues beyond apprehension have cropped in the construction stage which needs to be addressed. The company has claimed that an 11kilometer stretch in this phase of the project has become a stiff headache. In a study it was found that this stretch of 11 kilometres needs higher breast walls as ones built are not be enough to sustain. So now the company has requested for an increase in estimate for construction of higher breast walls. The carnage is becoming visible too, as a travel on this road shows the horrifying effect of development, common travellers have to face every day.
The failure of evaluating the odds by the National Highways authorities has put the public at large into the mess of sustaining the unwanted cost of the so called development. Despite a construction period of two and half years the four lanning project between Jabli and Dharampur is nowhere near completion with only landslides, dirt, broken roads accumulating for commoners to travel on. Sources inform that the construction company has requested for an extension of 15months for completion of this stretch (till June 2019 from March 2018).
Though the executing company has sighted various other reasons for delay like issues of land acquisitions, NGT stay, etc, but question yet remains that if the company had such low exposure of executing a project of such magnitude in the hills, then why was the project allocated to it?
NHAI sources state that the project allocation is done centrally by the authorities. A team headed by a Chief General Manager handles the global competitive bidding before allocating such projects. Even a feasibility report with a geological study is evaluated while finalizing the bidding. Yet, here in NH 22 case nothing seems to be done in letter and spirit, as after 30 months of construction the executing company is informing that the hill is not holding and higher breast walls are required. And to commoners eye the geological study too, is under scanner.
When contacted Regional Manager NHAI Gur Sewak Singh Sangha stated that he has yet not received any such request from the executing company, yet.
Talking about the other issues in construction he said that the geological study was conducted four years before the beginning of the project. In the period a lot could have changed in the strata, which might be causing problems. Adding that before bidding the contractors are informed that a 32meter wide road stretch is to be protected. Though keeping his hands clean from the issue, NHAI official said “How would they do it, is their priority and plan.”
Sangha informed that practically it has been only 5-6 months that the executing company has got free hand. As before it, was slowed being down due to issues of land acquisitions, etc. He said the company is working on all problems and soon all would be resolved. Though Sangha did not inform whether an extension would be granted to company or not or how soon would the situation improve.
On competency of company executing he said that while allocating the project, the company’s experience of working in a hill is not taken into account. Rather their exposure of 4- lanning and the capability of handling the project are taken into account. With only assumption that if the company is going into mountains for such construction then it shall hire requisite manpower for the purpose with experience of the hills.
However the situation here seems to have drawn out of hand, as with winters setting in, it would turn nothing less than worse. Thereafter if some grave incidence takes place the asleep government would wake up only to console and then again continue digging the fragile hill without legible studies to name it progress.