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New road project to connect all major cities

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Jan.16

THE Government has launched another Rs 40,000-crore project to connect all major cities by four-lane highways that are not covered under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP).

Christened Pradhan Mantri Bharat Jodo Pariyojana or `PM-BJP', the project involves four-laning of 10,000-km of roads, identified on the basis of traffic density, connectivity of State capitals with NHDP and important centres of tourism and economic activity by the year 2008, the Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Mr B.C. Khanduri, told reporters here on Friday.

``We have already tendered for construction of 622 km of four-lane highways and expect the work to be completed in 30 months,'' the Minister said. The non-NHDP highway projects will be implemented on a built, operate and transfer (BOT) basis where the contractor will build, operate and maintain the road and recover his costs through levy of user fees.

"The Government will provide a grant of 20 to 25 per cent for meeting the shortfall in revenue on a case-to-case basis to ensure a reasonable return to BOT operators,'' Mr Khanduri said.

The seven National Highways stretches, covering a length of 622 km will involve an expenditure of Rs 2,500 crore.

The stretches are 100-km Vadape-Gonde section on NH-3 in Maharashtra, 118-km Pimpalgaon-Dhule section on NH-3 in Maharashtra, 45-km Raipur-Aurang section on NH-6 in Chhattisgarh, 57-km Bharatpur-Mahua section on NH-11 in Rajasthan, 108-km Mahua-Jaipur section on NH-11 in Rajasthan, 115-km Barhi-Ranchi section on NH-33 in Jharkhand and 79-km Meerut-Muzaffarnagar section on NH-58 in Uttar Pradesh.

On the Rs 58,000-crore NHDP, Mr Khanduri said four/six laning of 2,395-km of the first phase involving the Golden Quadrilateral, connecting the four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, has been completed while work on 3,368-km stretch was in full swing. Contract for 83-km Allahabad by-pass was yet to be awarded.

``I expect 95 per cent of the 5,846-km GQ to be completed by the target date of December 2004,'' he said.

Of the 7,300-km corridors— North-South corridor linking Srinagar with Kanyakumari and East-West corridor connecting Silchar with Porbandar — 565 km has already been four-laned while work on 433 km was in progress. This section of NHDP is expected to be completed by December 2007, he said.

``The tremendous thrust to road development under the present Government can be gauged from the fact that in 50 years from 1947 to 1997, only 556 km of national highways were four-laned, but now in less than seven years, over 24,000 km would be four-laned,'' he said adding that 11-km of national highways were being constructed every day.

Mr Khanduri said that law and order problems in Bihar and difficulty in land acquisition in Tamil Nadu were delaying some of the stretches of GQ component of NHDP.

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