The central government will spend ₹1 lakh crore on various highway and bridge projects in Jharkhand over the next three years, said Union road, transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday. The minister was speaking at a webinar organised to inaugurate seven projects and lay foundation for seven others in the state worth over are ₹3,500 crore.
Responding to chief minister (CM) Hemant Soren’s suggestion of increasing the annual budget for highway construction in the state, Gadkari said, “When we took over in 2014, the total national highway length in the state was 2,178km and now it is 3,290 km. We have plans to spend ₹1 lakh crore on road projects in the state in three years. Currently, 756km long road projects worth ₹7,500 crore are under way in the state, while projects worth ₹10,000 crore will be approved by year-end.”
The event was attended by the Jharkhand CM, besides members of Parliament from the state, including Union tribal affairs minister Arjun Munda.
Gadkari, however, advised the CM to expedite the process of land acquisition and forest clearance for road projects in the state, as they were proving to be major causes behind the delay in projects.
Elevated corridors to come up in Jamshedpur, Ranchi
Detailing on the major upcoming projects in the state, the Union minister said work for multi-storeyed elevated corridors in Jamshedpur and Ranchi was expected to begin by year-end.
“There have been repeated requests from Ranchi and Jamshedpur MPs for elevated corridors. The detailed project report for double-decker elevated corridor on NH-33 in Jamshedpur is being finalised. Work on it is likely to be started this year. A similar elevated corridor will also come up on Ratu Road Piska More in Ranchi,” Gadkari said.
The minister also suggested the state government to provide public works department (PWD) engineers on deputation to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), the nodal agency of the Union ministry of roads, to work dedicatedly on highway projects in the state.
Protect elephant corridors: Soren
Meanwhile, CM Hemant Soren raised concerns over loss of tree cover and loss to environment caused due to highway construction, besides demanding the minister to provide high speed corridors to connect the state from neighbouring states in order to promote industrialisation in the state.
“The tree cover alongside highways is almost negligible now. We also have elephant corridors in some of the forested areas that need to be taken care of. Upcoming roads are affecting movement of elephants and they are forced to get waylaid and enter urban settlements,” Soren said.
The CM also advised officials to look into viability of changing alignment and constructing subways to protect the elephant corridors in the state.
Responding to the, issue Gadkari said his ministry has zero tolerance towards loss of tree cover and warned officials and contractors of action if found failing on that front.
“The cost of compensatory tree plantation is included in project cost. Use drones to record ground situation and take action under default clauses,” the minister directed NHAI officials.