Shimla | TNR
The four-day visit of Union road transport minister Nitin Gadkari to Himachal Pradesh from June 23 turned out to be disappointing for people living in the state.
People here were expecting the Union minister to give the green signal to at least a few alignment reports of among the 69 proposed national highways announced by his ministry between 2014 and 2017. At least Rs 65,000 crores were to be spent on the proposed national highways.
The grandiose announcement by the Union government of providing 69 national highways in the state had paid rich dividends to the BJP in the 2017 state assembly elections and 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Following the announcements of the proposed national highways in the state nearly 200 engineers of the public works department (PWD) were pressed into action between 2014 and 2018 to start the groundwork. Consultants were appointed, inception reports were prepared and their approval was secured from the state and Union government.
Subsequently work started on alignment reports and so far 58 such reports have been sent to the Union road transport and highways ministry for its green signal so that work could commence on some of the proposed national highways.
Work on a detailed project report (DPR) for road construction can only begin as and when the Union government gives the green signal to the related alignment report.
Gadkari’s fresh announcement, during his current visit to the state, of providing crores for construction of four lane roads and some other projects, have not enthused the people of the state because most of the projects for which funds were announced had been sanctioned a few years ago.
BJP as Opposition party had targeted Cong
Between 2015 and 2017 BJP, which was in the opposition during this period in the state, had raised the issue of pending work on national highways and had blamed the Congress ruled government of Virbhadra Singh for delaying the appointment of consultants for the proposed national highways.
HC has questioned the Union ministry
High Court of Himachal Pradesh had earlier questioned the Union government on the delay regarding the proposed national highways. The Union government had told the HC that parameters for construction of national highways in hilly areas were being revised, hence the delay.
CM Jai Ram Thakur’s plea
The Union ministry of road transport and highways had been urged by state Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur to speed up work on 25 of the total 69 proposed national highways. A list of the 25 proposed highways had been submitted to the Union ministry.
Foundations laid by Gadkari
BJP MLA Balvir Verma said that Union minister Gadkari had inaugurated and laid foundation stones for projects worth Rs 6155 crores. Four 4-lane projects are being constructed in the state, Verma said, adding that the Union government was working on the list of 25 proposed national highways submitted by the Chief Minister.
Cong says people of Himachal fooled
Work on even a single proposed national highway, announced with much fanfare by Union minister Gadkar, has not reached its logical conclusion, said Congress MLA Sukhvindra Sukkhu. The people of Himachal Pradesh have been fooled and taken for a ride by Gadkari, who makes people dream of good days but does and cannot make it a reality, he said adding that the latest announcements were made keeping in mind the assembly elections next year.