Rourkela: The under-construction 126-km stretch of NH-143 in Sundargarh district that was scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020 has been delayed by COVID-19 pandemic and now has the new deadline – next year.
The project that would connect Birmitrapur in Sundargarh with Barkot in Deogarh will have four bridges including the one over river Brahmani. It is regarded as the most vital link for Rourkela.
Saurabh Chaurasia, Project Director, NHAI of Rourkela region, last year had set a target to complete the project by the end of 2020. But the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown put a brake on the construction work which has forced the authorities to shift the target date.
Chaurasia said though the project work has resumed with reduced labour force, it cannot be completed by the deadline. “After settling all land related issues last year, we had planned to complete the work of 20 pillars on the river before the onset of monsoon. We were moving according to our plan but unfortunately COVID-19 stopped all the works,” he said.
“Besides the pillar work, piling work of another bridge over Shankha river has slowed down. Against 64 piling work, 51 have been completed. But four-lane road work is progressing smoothly. We are confident of finishing the work by March, 2021,” Chaurasia said.
The project has been divided into three phases – Biramitrapur to Rourkela of 30 km, Rourkela to Rajamunda of 46 km and Rajamunda to Barkot of 50 km. Three different construction companies have been awarded the work of Rs 2,500-crore project for different phases.
The second bridge over Brahmani is the vital part of the project. With the present bridge witnessing heavy vehicular traffic, it has been demanded for more than a decade. After completion, the six-lane bridge will be the lifeline of Rourkela.
“Now people will have to wait till June next year. But hope that four-lane road and Raja Munda-Koida road will be completed by March, 2021. I don’t see any obstacle in future to delay the project any further,” Chaurasia said.