Patna-Gaya-Dobhi road to be complete by March next year: NHAI

Patna Gaya Dobhi Road

Patna: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) chairman Alka Upadhyay has said that the work on long-delayed construction of Patna-Gaya-Dobhi stretch of the National Highway (NH-83) would be complete by March 2023.

Upadhyay, who was here on Tuesday, made this announcement after meeting with the officials of NHAI and Bihar Road Construction Department (RCD) and the representatives of the construction companies, awarded the work.

She also met the Chief Justice of Patna High Court Sanjay Karol, and apprised him about the developments on the NH-83. A division bench of Patna High Court led by Karol is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by an Non-government organisation (NGO) over the deplorable conditions of the road, which connects Patna with the most visited towns of Gaya and Bodh Gaya by foreign tourists, and inordinate delay in construction of the road.

Current status of road

Waking up to the State Government’s repeated demands and the Patna HC’s pressure, the NHAI had floated fresh tender for the project and awarded work to different construction firms to build the 127-km road in three sections on January 2020. The construction on the first 39 km stretch of road in Patna, which began in December 2020, was the deadline to finish by end of 2022. However, it was found during the review that less than 50% of the work could be completed so far. Status of the rest portion of the project, which includes 44km in Jehanabad and 44.21km in Gaya, is not different.

Patna Gaya Dobhi NH
NHAI Chairman Alka Upadhyay holding meeting with Bihar RCD Minister Natin Nabin, RCD, ACS, Pratyay Amrit & other officers in Patna

What’s the project

The NHAI has awarded work to build 127km stretch of Patna-Gaya-Dobhi highway in three different parts. Officials said the project cost has risen to ₹1609 crore. Work on this four-lane project was to start in 2020 and to be completed by 2022. However, the NHAI officials said that the work on the project was unlikely to finish within the stipulated time owing to the delay in land acquisition. Now March 23 has been fixed as the new deadline. Patna, Gaya and Jehanabad will be directly benefited if the road construction is completed during this period. It will also be easy to travel to Jharkhand via Gaya. At present, the problem of maximum jam is being faced on Patna-Gaya road itself. People are covering the journey of minutes in hours. With the construction of this road, people will be able to cover more distance in less time.

The background

The NHAI had floated the tender to select fresh construction firms to execute the project, after the IL&FS Engineering and Construction Company Limited abandoned it after finishing about 20% of the work.  IL&FS had bagged the work order for building the road with fresh realignments in April 2014 at the cost of ₹1,232 crore.

Officials of the road construction department (RCD), who are monitoring the land acquisition process, said that the project estimate had escalated to ₹2,015 crore this time after IL&FS opted out of it due to financial strains in October 2018. “Delay in land acquisition also hampered the project execution,” said an executive engineer of RCD.

As the case is listed for hearing again in the high court on February 7, NHAI officials claimed that they would submit the time-bound action plan to complete the project in the next two year, as the authority was still waiting for required land for road widening in around 17-km stretch of road. “The entire project has been divided into three segments, Patna (34km), Jehanabad (31km) and Gaya (62km) for its smooth execution,” said the officer.

HC steps in to check delay in NH projects

Taking a serious view of inordinate delays in land acquisition for major road projects in Bihar, the Patna High Court has started the monitoring all the national highways in the state to pass necessary orders for removal of hurdles in their completion.

Taking suo motu cognizance of the matter, the bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice S Kumar, in the last week of March, ordered the court registry to register 40 writ cases so that the problems of each national highway could be taken up separately to speed up the process of land acquisition.

“The authorities shall expedite the process for acquiring the land with respect to each one of the projects for which the amount stands sanctioned. What is disturbing and distressing is, as is evident from the NHAI (National Highway Authority of India) affidavit, that only 15% (approx.) of the amount stands released and the remaining amount is pending, inter alia, for want of passing of the awards as per law,” the court observed.

HC wished to know if Patna-Dobhi-Gaya road can be 6-lane

The Patna High Court had early this year asked the (NHA]) to consider suggestion of making Patna-Gaya-Dobhi NH-83 a six-lane project instead of four lanes.

Hearing a bunch of PILs, instituted suo motu for monitoring and accelerating NH projects in the State, the division bench of Patna HC had asked the NHAI officials to visit the entire stretch of 127km Patna-Gaya-Dobhi NH to study the financial viability and cut in the future cost escalation of the project. The NHAI has been asked to submit its feasibility report to the court by May.

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