Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday met Union Minister of Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari to discuss the proposed Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway as well as various pending Punjab road and highway projects.The discussion on the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra highway, which was also attended by Haryana Chief Minister ML Khattar and Jammu & Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, focused on road alignment and land acquisition costs for the project.Captain Amarinder said the Centre should pay all the acquisition costs for the highway, because of the state's poor fiscal health. The Chief Minister was in favour of aligning the road via Pathankot into Amritsar to Taran Taran to Moga to Barnala and Samana before moving into Haryana, in order to encourage the development of these areas, which were lagging in industrial development.Though the NHAI has invited bids for the appointment of Consultant to conduct feasibility study and prepare a DPR for the proposed expressway, the process is going on at a slow pace, Captain Amarinder pointed out, urging the Ministry may expedite construction of the proposed Expressway.The union minister suggested formation of a group of revenue secretaries from the three states as well as the central government to study and recommend the modalities of the acquisition process. Acknowledging the inability of the states to share the acquisition burden, Gadkari assured that he would find ways to save them from the cost. The states could instead provide government land for formation of logistic hubs, industrial parks etc.
The Chief Minister also raised various issues relating to development of roads and highways in Punjab. He urged Gadkari to intervene to expedite the various pending proposals and projects. These included approval for connecting the remaining four district headquarters with 4/6 lane National Highways, besides declaration of Khanna-Malerkotla-Raikot-Jagraon-Nakodar as a new National Highway.Pointing out that 18 of the 22 districts of Punjab were already connected with 4/6 lane National Highways, Captain Amarinder said only Ferozepur, Mansa, Sri Muktsar Sahib and Fazilka districts still continue to be connected with 2-lane National Highways. His request for connecting these to 4/6 lane National Highways through approval of 4-laning of Barnala-Mansa section of NH-703 and Dabwali-Malout-Abohar-Fazilka section of NH-10 was pending with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), said the Chief Minister, seeking the union minister’s support in the matter.Captain Amarinder also requested that NHAI be directed to speed up the process of upgradation of Talwandi-Ferozepur and Sri Mukatsar Sahib-Malout sections, apart from declaration of Khanna-Malerkotla-Raikot-Jagraon-Nakodar as new National Highway as it connects NH-1 (Now NH-44) No.1 through NH-95 with NH-71.Another important issue raised by the Chief Minister in his letter relates to upgradation of Banga-Garhshankar-Anandpur Sahib-Naina Devi Road as a National Highway, for which the formal notification was still pending even though GoI had given in-principle approval.
The Chief Minister has also sought entrustment of the four-laning projects to the State PWD (B&R), which had a dedicated staff to work on implementation of National Highway projects.While the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, GoI, has, in principle, agreed to approve Annual Plan of National Highway (O) for Rs.1049 crore, only one Rs. 158 crore project has been given the go-ahead in the first phase, Captain Amarinder pointed out, requesting that the remaining DPRs of Rs.418.48 crore submitted to the Ministry in the current financial year may also be approved.
He further urged the Ministry to resolve the pending issues related to 4-laning of Ludhiana-Talwandi Bhai section of NH-95 road, for which work was started in March 2012 by the NHAI through the consultant (M/s Essel Infrastructure) on BOT basis but was subsequently stopped. The suspension of work, he said, was causing a lot of inconvenience to the people.Captain Amarinder also urged the ministry to expedite the pending proposal for new construction of the road along Canal (Kasur Branch Lower/ Khem Karan Distributory) from Village Joura originating from MDR-62 (Tarn Taran - Patti road) to Village Mehmoodpura in District Tarn Taran, Punjab - Approval under Central Road Fund.The Chief Minister was accompanied by Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, his Media Advisor Raveen Thukral and Chief Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar.