SAMBALPUR/BARGARH: Commuting on National Highway (NH) 6 from Sambalpur to Odisha-Chhattisgarh border has become a nightmare for locals. Although 90 per cent of four laning work of the NH has been completed, a major portion of the 88-km-road stretch has developed potholes, leading to frequent mishaps.
Ashoka Buildcon, a Nashik-based construction company, is four-laning NH-6 from Sambalpur to Odisha-Chhattisgarh border and Ashoka Sambalpur-Bargarh Tollways Limited was formed by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) last year to collect toll on the road. Following agitations, the Ashoka Sambalpur-Bargarh Tollways Limited had exempted toll fee collection from people of Bargarh, the NH stretch has turned into a death trap over faulty design and lack of maintenance.
Adding to the woes of commuters is the absence of lighting system along the highway. Though street lights have been installed on both sides, most of those do not function which leads to accidents on the service roads during night. Executed under Build Own Transfer (Toll) on Design, Build, Finance, Operate, Transfer (DBFOT) model under PPP mode of National Highway Development Project III, there are numerous places where service roads are completely missing in between. Worse, the service roads are replete with craters.
Protesting this and the delay in completing the rest 10 per cent four-laning work, members of the Bargarh Bar Association have decided to prevent Ashoka Sambalpur-Bargarh Tollways Limited from collecting tax from December 10. Members of the Bar Association had taken up the issue with NHAI and Ashoka Buildcon had assured them to complete the road within three months from the date of visit of NHAI team on September 6. The work, though, is far from over.
The lawyers claimed that 70 persons have lost their lives in road accidents in Bargarh district itself due to the damaged NH stretch and its faulty design. Apparently, the NHAI team during its visit had suggested for immediate repair of the highway.