SAMBALPUR: Even as work on the four-laning of National Highway 6 from Sambalpur to Odisha-Chhattisgarh border on a stretch of 88 kms is yet to be completed, the decision to accord provisional completion certificate on the project and allow toll collection has not gone down well with the people.
While resentment is brewing among the locals against the decision, repair work has been undertaken on the completed stretch of the road executed under Build-Own-Transfer of Design-Build-Finance-Operate-Transfer (DBFOT) model under PPP mode of National Highway Development Project III. While work on the road is yet to be taken up in Attabira stretch, approach road to the bridge over river Mahanadi towards Laxmi Dungri Hill remains untouched.
Members of more than 30 organisations and local political leaders cutting across party lines have demanded that since no public hearing was held before finalising the toll rate chart, it should be put on hold. They also raised concern over construction of the road flouting the original plan. Recently, they staged demonstration in front of the Collectorate and submitted a memorandum on the issue.
Meanwhile, the road from Remed to the Mahanadi bridge, proposed bridges before rail over bridge leading to Sambalpur University, approach road to the rail over bridge at Katapali and other patches remain incomplete. While 40 per cent of the road work is yet to be completed, potholes have appeared on many stretches.
Resenting the toll collection, the locals said the proposed fees are quite high. While light motor vehicles have to cough up Rs 90 for single journey, light commercial and goods vehicles have to pay Rs 145, buses and trucks with two axles have to dole out Rs 295, heavy construction machinery or multi axle vehicles have to pay Rs 455 and over sized vehicles, which have more than seven axles, have to cough up Rs 570.
Meanwhile, Ashoka Sambalpur-Bargarh Tollways Limited, which has been formed to collect the toll on the road, has assured to exempt the toll fee from the people of Bargarh. Even as Ashoka Buildcon, the construction company, has tried to buy peace, there have been allegations of ignoring claims of locals for providing jobs at the toll gate. Sources said a school and gram panchayat office are located on one side of the toll gate and a tribal village on the other. Besides disturbing the students of the school, the toll gate would lead to accidents, they added.