NHAI shuffles PDs to expedite pending projects
As per an office order accessed by TNIE, the PD of Chandikhole JP Verma has been transferred as the PD of Sambalpur while K Nageshwar Rao, who was the PD of Sambalpur, has been shifted to Bhubaneswar.
BHUBANESWAR: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has effected a major reshuffle in the level of project director (PD) of different sections in the state to expedite pending projects that have drawn criticism.
As per an office order accessed by The New Indian Express, the PD of Chandikhole JP Verma has been transferred as the PD of Sambalpur while K Nageshwar Rao, who was the PD of Sambalpur, has been shifted to Bhubaneswar. Though the PD of Dhenkanal Narendra Singh, who was given the additional charge of Bhubaneswar, has been relieved from charge, he will be in charge of the Chandikhole project implementation unit (PIU).
The three PDs, who are also DGMs (technical), are among seven DGMs, two GMs and one manager reshuffled by NHAI in Odisha, Jharkhand and Punjab on Tuesday. Sources said Verma has been shifted from Chandikhole PIU to Sambalpur after the successful upgradation of the Chandikhole-Bhadrak section of the Kolkata-Chennai golden quadrilateral corridor into a six-lane highway.
Now Verma has a huge task at hand as he has to expedite the pending expansion work of Angul-Sambalpur portion of NH-55 that is over four years behind the scheduled completion date. The Angul-Sambalpur portion is part of the 263 km Cuttack (Manguli)-Samablpur NH-55 project which was taken up for expansion in three packages in 2017 and 2018. The cost of the project has been revised to Rs 4,482 crore.
Although around 80 per cent (128 km) four-laning work of the 151 km Angul-Sambalpur (package III) stretch has been completed, it missed the deadline as work for none of the 12 elephant underpasses has started yet.
The NHAI recently approved the underpasses at Rs 111 crore. In the other two packages, 75 per cent (49 km) of the 60 km Manguli-Jhargadia (package I) and 65 per cent (37 km) of the 52 km Jhargadia-Angul (package II) have been completed so far. The highway is strewn with potholes and puddles and is not in motorable condition at several stretches, especially in rainy seasons due to tardy and on-going traffic-insensitive construction works leading to congestion and fatal accidents.
“Completion of NH-55 expansion is now the top priority as Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has given March 31 as the deadline,” said an NHAI official. Earlier, NHAI had suspended a director (technical) and a finance officer for alleged financial irregularities involving the project and shifted six officials following an extensive report in The New Indian Express.