Spelling glad tidings, the work on the 360-kms long Mumbai-Goa National Highway (NH-66) will be completed by the year-end and the thoroughfare will be opened for traffic in January 2024, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said.
Billed as a boon for the population on the entire coastal Konkan belt, people will be able to zoom in their vehicles on the new 4-lane highway from Mumbai to Goa in barely 4.5 hours (around 275 minutes) - compared with the existing 12 hours, via NH 48 (600-kms).
The new highway, now almost 90 per cent complete, will traverse through more than 66 important tourist destinations en route that would spur tourism to both states, said Gadkari after conducting an aerial survey of the project near Ratnagiri on Thursday.
He said that the highway has been sliced into 10 packages of which two (P9, P1o) are 99 per cent completed in Sindhudurg, P4, P8 are 92 and 98 per cent ready respectively in Ratnagiri.
Gadkari said that work on two packages P6, P7 (Ratnagiri) was delayed but has now resumed after new contractors were appointed. Of the three packages in Raigad, P3, P2 are 82 and 93 per cent completed and P1 is more than 50 per cent done and the remaining works are in progress, said the Union Minister.
He attributed delays plaguing the much-anticipated Mumbai-Goa NH-66 project owing to land acquisition and environmental clearances on the Panvel-Indapur phase. "Now, all these hurdles are cleared and even the environmental issue sorted out by removing the planned flyover in the Karnala Bird Sanctuary area of Panvel in Raigad," Gadkari pointed out.
Similarly, the work within the Goa stretch of NH-66 has already been completed and now it would give a fillip to tourism in both the neighbouring coastal states. In order to prevent accidents, a proposal to erect the bamboo crash barriers - on the lines of the worlds' first such sturdy bamboo crash barrier that came up on the Chandrapur-Yavatmal highway three weeks ago (March 9) - even along the NH-66, has been entrusted to the National Highway Authority of India.
There will be massive tree plantations, signages as per world standards and other facilities to make the travel faster, easier and safer on the Mumbai-Goa National Highway.
The present Mumbai-Goa Highway (NH-48) has proved to be ineffective to handle the large volume of traffic, it suffers huge damage during the monsoon leading to massive traffic snarls that often double the travel time, and become a harrowing experience for the tourists and commoners alike.
The coastal road stretch linking the two states is among the most picturesque in the country, especially during monsoon, and has figured in several Bollywood films like 'Bombay To Goa' (1972), 'Dil Chahta Hai' (2001), 'Dhamaal' and 'Journey Bombay To Goa' (2007), 'Go Goa Gone' (2013), among many others.