The stalled construction work of four-laning the Ropar-Phagwara highway resumed in Punjab’s first COVID hotspot, Nawanshahr, after district authorities allowed a relaxation in lockdown curbs on the NHAI’s request.
The Punjab government had asked all DCs across the state to relax curfew conditions for the industry, construction work and other permitted services on case-to-case basis.
The Rs 1500-crore highway project covers 80 km from Phagwara to Ropar and was scheduled to be completed by April 3 this year. Major portion of the project falls in the Nawanshahr district. But lockdown restrictions and delay in acquiring land for the road at a stretch near Nawanshahr’s Banga town resulted in the deadline being missed. Sources said that the delay will cause an escalation in the construction cost. The entire project is now expected to be wrapped up within four to five months.
Nawanshahr DC Vinay Bublani said that he had received an application from the NHAI to allow construction of this “much-needed project”.
“I have instructed NHAI officials to adopt proper social distancing and provide masks, sanitisers, hand wash facility to the workers/labourers and proper shelters,” the DC said, adding that the passes to labuorers are being issued.
“The labour will not be allowed to move out of the district and the project will continue in the non-containment zone only,” he clarified.
The DC also said that they have set up various medical teams that will screen the labours from time-to-time because the district had reported its last COVID case 25days back.
Nawanshahr had 19 COVID patients, out of which 17 are already cured and one had died. The test of the last patient under treatment will be conducted in a couple of days.
NHAI Project Director Yash Pal Singh Jadon told The Indian Express that “they have got their own labour because of which they sought permission for construction” as the project must be wrapped up due to huge traffic flow on the stretch. He informed that 85 per cent work on this particular stretch has already been completed, including work of the longest four-km elevated road near Banga town that is 93 per cent over.
“There are nearly 200 labourers of different expertise with us to start this project. They can be deployed for work at the different sites of the project to maintain proper social distancing,” said Engineer Rishabh Srivastava.
The project is being constructed under the Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM) award under which NHAI pays 40 per cent of the cost upfront and 60 per cent over a period of 15 years to the developer.
Jadon also said that they have also sought permission for resuming the work on the elevated road in Phagwara town from the Deputy Commissioner of Kapurthala, which is yet to come.
Phagwara elevated road was earlier to be part of the Jalandhar-Panipat six-lane project, but then this elevated road was delinked from this project. Due to delays in the project, traffic snarls are the order of the day in Phagwara in areas where road work is pending.
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