An initiative by Congress MLA Sanjay Kapoor to repair a 32-km stretch of National Highway 87 — connecting Rampur district in Uttar Pradesh to Karna Prayag in Uttarakhand — has been termed illegal by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
The NHAI officials, who initially feigned ignorance about any such construction work done on the stretch, said they will inquire into the matter as it is illegal for an outsider taking up repair or fresh construction work at a national highway.
Labourers and contractor hired by Kapoor conducted repair work on the stretch for eight days. Kapoor claimed no NHAI official men came to inquire and hence, he went ahead with the work.
Kapoor, who represents Bilaspur Assembly seat of Rampur, had undertaken karsewa for eight days (May 22 to 29) to repair the 32-km stretch. All equipment required for construction — including mixture machine, road rollers and other machines to fill potholes and pits — were engaged in the work. Another 12-km stretch in Rudrapur district of Uttarakhand too was repaired by filling construction material.
“I have been receiving complaints about the pathetic condition of NH 87. Nearly 100 people had died in accidents in the past several years. The road had potholes and was not motorable. I wrote at least 10 letters to the NHAI but got no reply. Left with no option, I requested people and they came forward with help and donations for repairing the highway,” Kapoor said.
He claimed that he spent no money from his pocket. “While some people sponsored construction materials, others gave labourers. Now, the 32-km stretch is smooth and free of potholes,” said Kapoor.
Claiming that he knows that what he has done is illegal, he said: “I understand that the act is illegal, but for the last eight days, I was standing on the highway from 8 am to 10 pm supervising the work. But not even a single peon from the NHAI office ever came. I wanted them to claim ownership of the road and that way, I would have withdrawn myself, but they did not come.”
When contacted, NHAI Project Director (Dehradun) Pramod Kumar, said: “No permission was sought by the MLA. Actually, we had no information about the work done. No rules allow any private party to do repair work at national highways. We repair it from own resources. Since we were not aware of the legislator’s, act we could not take any action.”
NHAI Regional Officer (UP) Khushwant Singh too admitted that the act of MLA was wrong but cited helplessness. “It is wrong if a private person takes up repair work. We do not have any security force to keep a watch on our roads. We get such information late. We then visit the spot and if the work is for betterment, we allow it, else we remove it. We will inquire into the matter,” he said.
Meanwhile, an office-bearer of Uttarakhand Congress has posted pictures of repairing work being carried out by Kapoor.