The temporary diversion on the right side of National Highway (NH-33) near Lohagate in Ramgarh district that had caved in due to an underground fire became operational on Sunday.
The diversion was, however, opened to light and medium vehicles only on Monday. Heavy vehicles will have to follow the longer route until a permanent diversion is created.
According to Central Coalfields Limited (CCL), which built the diversion, this temporary route will once again reduce the distance between Ranchi and Patna by about 40 km. After the highway cave-in on August 9, all vehicles were diverted through Charahi and Ghato, thereby increasing the distance between Ranchi and Patna.
The coal company has also managed to control the underground fire on and along the NH by pushing in water and chemicals by drilling holes. The temperature in the fire zone, which had risen to 170 degree Celsius, has come down to 76 degree Celsius.
CCL deputy chief public relations manager, M N Jha, said though the company was not responsible for the damage or maintenance of the highway, work was done at the request of the state government. "We have spent over Rs 1.11 crore on controlling the fire in the last two months as a responsible corporate citizen. The company has spent around Rs 27 lakh on the payment of engineers and over Rs 3.5 lakh on scientific assistance. We will continue to work for society," said Jha.
CCL has also suggested that the government mine all coal under the NH so that illegal mining stops for ever. "There are too many rat holes along and under the highway that are known only to locals. Therefore, it is suggested that all the coal is excavated to put an end to chances of fire in future," said Jha.
The Bapira and Phusri bridges on the Charahi-Ghato-Nayamore route are under repair by the state road construction department, which has agreed in principle to share the cost of the emergency repair of the bridges.
TNN 30 September 2009