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Mamata Calls For NH34 Handover

2016-08-12 23:16

CM Mamata Banerjee speaking in Kalyani. Picture by PRANAB DEBNATH

 The horrible condition of NH34 near Jagulia. Picture by SOVAN CHAUDHURI


Kalyani, Aug. 12: Annoyed over the dilapidated condition of the National highway-34 chief minister Mamata Banerjee today told the National Highway authority of India to hand over the responsibility of its construction and its maintenance to the state government unless it could do the job in time.

In an administrative review meeting in Kalyani chief minister told the NHAI officials to state categorically if they are in a position to do the job properly because the people is being “mislead” and “blaming the state government” unknowingly.

Later chief minister told the media persons that the NHAI officials present in the meeting said that they are not in a position to do the job which may be done by the state public works department.

“Today they said let the PWD do this job. But I said it would take at least six months for the PWD to do the job for the tendering process. We told them to do the patch up work until the PWD come into a position to take up the works. This is urgently needed so that people can use it as they are unknowingly blaming the state government”, she told the reporters.

In the meeting she told the NHAI officials that the state government is ‘utterly embarrassed’ for the inaction of the NHAI.

The chief minister has also claimed to have instructed the PWD officials to talk to their counterparts of NHAI authorities in Delhi so that the process could be completed at earliest, preferably before the festive season starts.

Senior NHAI officials in Calcutta and Krishnanagar, have, however, been surprised about the chief minister’s statement.

“The centre has in principle recently decided to handover the 80km stretch of NH34 from Barasat to Krishnanagar to state government. The centre has also issued formal letter clearly offering the job to the state government. Rather the state government is yet to respond to the letter. So today’s statement of chief minister is quite surprising”, a senior NHAI officer said.

“Until it happens we would do our job as usual, even though the regular maintenance works are being hampered due to incessant rain that has largely damaged the road in many stretches from Barasat to Krishnanagar”, the officer added.

Chief Minister’s convoy today avoided the NH34 to reach Kalyani due to dilapidated condition of the road. The convoy instead came along the Kalyani expressway that has been repaired recently.

A senior police officer said: “The road condition of NH34 particularly from Madhyamgram to Kalyani is horrible. The recent spate of rain has made its condition worse making it nearly inaccessible in many stretches. The chief minister’s convoy therefore took the Kalyani Expressway to reach Kalyani”.

In last year the state the local administration in Nadia and Murshidabad district erected unsigned bill boards along the NH34 proclaiming that the road is maintained by the Centre and indirectly telling motorists who they should curse for the cratered stretch.

The signage lining the potholed stretch of NH34 between Nadia and Murshidabad say in Bengali, Hindi and English: "This road is maintained by Govt. of India."

An n official of Nadia administration said: “We done it to make people aware that the centre’s negligence as they unknowingly blame state government thinking that all roads in the state are under state government”.

The Officials of NH34 project director (Krishnanagar) led by Ajit Kumar Sing who are invited to the meeting being responsible for construction and maintenance of NH34 from airport to Murshidabad district faced the wrath of chief minister today.

Singh confirmed that he was present in the meeting but refused to divulge any details about the discussion they had with the chief minister.

“I was present there. But, I am not authorized to speak anything about the discussion”, he said.

Many other officials of NHAI working under Krishnanagar project office feel that the chief minister’s statement is not rational enough.

“If the state government were shown its alacrity and political will to settle the land acquisition cases earlier, the condition of the NH34 would be in such a state. Even now after acquisition was completed, the administration has not shown much eagerness to clear the encroachers. At many places shops and establishments could not be removed due to political clout. On the other hand overloaded vehicles randomly passing through without check. The overloaded vehicles thus destroyed the road largely particularly during this monsoon”, an officer said.

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