A new highway between Surat and Bengaluru was announced by the Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday to curtail the vehicular pollution in Maharashtra’s two major cities Mumbai and Pune.
Gadkari also announced new national highway projects worth ₹5,801 for Maharashtra, under his ministry’s annual plan. The new highway between Surat and Bengaluru, worth ₹6,000 crore will facilitate south-bound vehicles coming from northern Indian states, to bypass Mumbai and Pune. Gadkari said that the new highway starting at Surat connecting Nashik, Ahmednagar, Solapur, Hyderabad, Chennai will end in Bengaluru.
“The vehicular traffic towards south from the northern states like Rajasthan, Delhi, and Himachal Pradesh passes through these two Maharashtra cities, leading to pollution and congestion. The new highway will bypass Mumbai and Pune, and will help in reducing major congestion,” Gadkari said in a press conference in Mumbai, after meeting CM Uddhav Thackeray on various projects being implemented in the state, on Thursday.
He further said that the ongoing four-lane work on Mumbai-Goa highway will be completed in a year. The highway which was expected to be completed last year has been delayed, due to issues related to land acquisition, forest and wildlife clearances, and poor planning. The Panvel-Indapur section of the highway was to be completed in June 2014 but is still reeling with technical issues.
The Union minister said that during his meeting with State Bank of India (SBI) chairman Dinesh Kumar Khara on Thursday, the financial issues have been resolved. “Around 70-75% work of the patch has been completed till date. The contractors for the other two patches have been replaced,” said Gadkari.
The minister said that he has ensured additional funds for the roads in Maharashtra from the annual plan of his ministry. “The annual plan for national highway works in Maharashtra was approved for ₹2,727 crore. I got it enhanced to ₹5,801 crore, which will help in developing 1,035 km of national highways in the state” he said.
Gadkari said that the ₹1 lakh crore Delhi-Mumbai Expressway project will be extended till Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), to facilitate container traffic. He said the state government will partner in its construction by the means of goods and services tax (GST) exemption and royalty-free supply of steel and cement, which will be considered as its equity in the project.
CM Thackeray directed state officials to resolve the issues related to land acquisition and clearances from the forest department at the earliest.