Rourkela: The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is planning the construction of the new National Highway No-320(D). It will be a 25-km road connecting Bandhamunda with Jareikela via Hockey Square in the Steel City, sources said Wednesday. The NHAI has already floated a tender for the project following the sanction of funds. Sources said that funds worth Rs 222.62 crore have been sanctioned for the project. However, there are allegations that the NHAI floated the tender by reducing the budget. Some of the amount sanctioned has been earmarked for seven different government departments. The seven departments that have been provided with funds are TPWODL (Rs 11.50 crore), RMC (Rs 60,000) SC Railway (Rs 8 crore), RWSS (Rs 1.68 crore) Forest department (Rs 3.2 crore) and Rs 37.5 crore for land acquisition.
However, land acquisition for the project has run into troubled waters. Certain conditions imposed by the Forest Department for land acquisition is preventing the smooth completion of the project. There are doubts as to whether the project will be able to meet the deadline. Reports said that 5.98 acres of private and 21.140 acres of government land have to be acquired for the construction of the highway. It will not be an easy process as thousands have set up shops and business establishments for their livelihood on private and government lands.
Sources said that owners of the private land will get compensation. However, Bisra tehsildar Jyotshnarani Sahoo informed Tuesday that no compensation will be awarded for government land acquisition. It means that those who have their establishments on government land will not get any compensation. The land acquisition process has also come under attack from various environmental groups.
A total of 1,723 trees have been identified for felling. Among them, there are over 1,100 mango, neem and tamarind trees. However, here also the Forest department has created a roadblock. It has asked the NHAI to plant double the number of trees that will be cut. The Forest Department has also asked the NHAI to construct three underpasses to facilitate the movement of elephants on the route. It has said that the go-ahead will only be available if the conditions are met. Junior engineer Jyotshnamayee Biswal of NHAI said that a tender has been floated while land acquisition and Forest department clearance are pending.
Funds have been sanctioned to the Forest Department to cut down the trees. The underpass for elephants will be constructed after receiving the clearance from higher-ups. Rourkela DFO Jashobant Sethi said that they are yet to receive any report from NHAI on the fulfillment of conditions as laid out by the Forest department.