72 km NH-16 stretch has 2,287 encroachments
The encroachments have been identified on Baramunda-Chandikhol stretch
BHUBANESWAR: ONE of the busiest national highways in the state, the NH-16, recorded the maximum number of accidents in recent years, yet it remains one of the most encroached. Notwithstanding the rising casualties, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is yet to wake up from its slumber and take action to remove the encroachments which are a major reason behind the rising road fatalities along NH-16.
A whopping 2,287 encroachments, including 860 permanent and 1427 temporary, have been identified along the 72 km Baramunda-Chandikhol stretch of NH 16. While only 634 encroachments have been removed till April, no step has been taken against 1,653 encroachments.
The stretches from Birupa Bridge to Gobindpur, Chhatia to Chandikhol, Nakhara to Uraligada have the highest number of encroachments - 580, 354, 291 - respectively. In Bhubaneswar, the Jaydev Vihar-Satsang Vihar stretch has 255 encroachments. Between Nakhara and Uraligada, the number of permanent encroachments stands at 224. However, not a single encroachment from Chhatia to Chandikhol, Kuakhai bridge to Nakhara and Satsang Vihar to Kuakhai bridge has been removed during the period. The three stretches have a total of 601 encroachments.
Based on reviews conducted from time to time following the directives of the Supreme Court Committee on Road Safety, the state government had asked the NHAI to take immediate steps to remove encroachments and parked vehicles from highways in February. Government agencies including the police and transport departments were asked to extend support.
Multiple establishments, including roadside eateries and shops, have illegally come up along NH-16 posing safety hazards for the traffic as they allow illegal access and parking of vehicles on the highway. Although setting up of these illegal establishments is a punishable offence under the Control of National Highways (Land and Traffic) Act, 2002 and it empowers the NH officers to take action against encroachments, the NHAI is yet to enforce it strictly.
“Encroachment of NH land whether of permanent or temporary nature is a matter of grave concern for traffic management, operations and future up-gradation of projects. It is surprising to see little action by NHAI on illegal encroachers despite repeated instructions from the state government,” pointed out Subrat Nanda, a member of the road safety committee.
NHAI officials said they have started the drive and removed illegal encroachments at a couple of locations. “It is difficult to remove all at one go due to stiff resistance from locals. We have begun the process and will remove all identified encroachments within the next month,” said NH project director (Bhubaneswar) Narendra Singh. Meanwhile, the state government has asked the NHAI to pull down all permanent encroachments at Manguli, DRIEMS Square, Pahal and other important locations on a priority basis in consultation with district administration.