Bhubaneswar:25/3/23: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has written to the Centre over the delay in upgradation of a section of NH-55 in the State and sought intervention for speedy completion of the project. In a letter to Union Minister Road Transport and Highways dated 24.03.2023, the CM stated that the upgradation of the Cuttack-Angul-Sambalpur section of NH-55 has been pending since more than five years. The work, which was taken up by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) in 2017, is still not completed and is leading to frequent accidents, he wrote, further stressing that the inordinate delay has fuelled considerable public agitation and discontentment among the people of Western Odisha for whom the stretch is a lifeline.
“I would like to draw your kind attention to the fact that the rehabilitation and upgradation of Cuttack-Angul-Sambalpur section of the NH-55 from km 0.400 to km.265.000 to 4-lane carriageway is being carried out by NHAI since 2017. It is a matter of great concern that even after more than five years, up-gradation work is yet to be completed.
The above section of the NH-55 serves as a lifeline to millions of people of Western Odisha. haphazard construction activities and miserable plight of the road causes frequent accidents leading to loss of human lives. During the last two years, as many as 399 accidents have taken place causing 196 fatalities. There is public agitation and discontentment among people for inordinate delay in completion of the road work. It is worth mentioning that the concern of the State government on this count has been communicated to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways earlier. Progress of the instant project is being reviewed with the regional authorities of NHAI at regular intervals but no satisfactory outcome is visible. I take this opportunity to seek your intervention for early completion of the project which will go a long way in redressing the pending demand of the people in the State,” the letter read.
One of the most significant highways of the state, the NH-55 has long been crucial connect between coastal, central Odisha and western regions of the state. Its importance as an economic corridor necessitated expansion of the NH’s 263-km stretch from Cuttack to Sambalpur into a four-lane carriageway. Completed, the highway would link industrial corridors of eastern coastal and western Odisha besides accelerating movement of mining and industrial traffic and uninterrupted connectivity to the ports of Paradip, Dhamra and Gopalpur.
Started in three phases between March 2017 and March 2018, the four-laning work of the Cuttack-Sambalpur section of NH-55 (old NH-42) was taken up at a cost of Rs 2,367 crore. The NH was divided into three packages – 60 km Manguli-Jhargadia (Package I), 52 km Jhargadia-Angul (Package II) and 151 km Angul-Sambalpur (Package III)
Package I was taken up at a cost of Rs 583 crore, Package II at Rs 529 crore and Package III at Rs 1,255 crore. Seven years hence, the estimate almost stands doubled at Rs 4,482 crore (Package I – Rs 999 crore, Package II – Rs 991 crore and Package III – Rs 2492 crore) due to cost escalation.The expansion was to be completed by June 30, 2022. The deadline is long gone. This was the third time the project missed its deadline. The Angul-Sambalpur section awarded in September 2016 was to be completed by August 2019. The Cuttack-Angul stretch was to be ready by September 2020.