Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Monday expressed displeasure over the lethargy observed in the progress of the ongoing National Highways (NH) projects taken up in Goa, and stated that those projects facing public opposition should be cancelled rather than making changes in them as per the public demand.
Gadkari, who chaired a meeting to review the progress of ongoing National Highway projects in the country, also pulled up the officials in charge of such projects in Goa, for slow pace of these projects. The officials pointed out to the Union Minister the obstacles encountered by these projects, especially those faced at Vasco and Porvorim. These projects are funded by the central government.
Confirming the dissatisfaction expressed by Gadkari, Minister for Public Works Ramkrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar said that the slow pace of these projects was due to the constant changes in the alignment fixed for these projects.
“Actually it was absurd to change this alignment every few days, which resulted in delaying the projects by six months,” the Minister for Public Works told this daily, adding that the public opposition to the ongoing construction of the Western bypass is illogical, and the demand linked to it is impossible to be fulfilled, as there is no money
for taking up related changes.
Questioning as to how much more funds would the central government give to the state, in the event of constant changes in these projects, Dhavalikar said that Gadkari has told the state government to complete these projects as per the plans, or abandon the projects if there is any delay in them due to the public opposition.
It may be recalled that the people of Salcete have been opposing the construction of the Western bypass as per the plans, as they fear possible flooding of low-lying areas once fields are filled for construction of the particular bypass.
The two-day meeting will witness review of the progress of ongoing National Highway projects by Gadkari. Altogether 427 projects are being undertaken by National Highways Authority of India in the country, while the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has undertaken the works of 369 projects each above the cost of Rs 100 crore.
Dhavalikar, officials from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, officers from National Highways Authority of India and all state representatives were present at the meeting.
“Out of over 700 projects undertaken, 300 projects would be completed before March 2019,” said Gadkari. The Union Minister also took step-by-step and project-by-project review of the ongoing projects.
Gadkari further gave directions to officers and contractors to complete the nationwide works spread over 27,000 km length, in respect of the projects, which were awarded before March 2015. The year 2018 has been declared as a ‘Construction Year’ by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
In Goa, total length of existing national highways is 262 km, and in-principle nod has been given to projects spread over 108.5 km as National Highway and 208 km as Economic Corridor.