Baalu asks states to avoid delays in national highway projects

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New Delhi, Jun 24 (UNI) Union Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister T R Baalu today underscored the need for states to fully utilise the funds allocated for the maintenance and repairs of the national highways, saying that delays in these activities have become serious bottlenecks in achieving timely completion of projects.

Addressing a conference of ministers in-charge of the highways in the states here, Mr Baalu drew attention to the critical issues concerning the projects under National Highways Development Project (NHDP) which involve a number of pre-construction activities like land acquisition, shifting of utilities, forest clearances and other approvals from various agencies.

Works, he noted, had been stalled for want of facilities or due to resistance for payment of user fee (toll) at many a place.

"We need your active co-operation and personal intervention to address these problems so as to together achieve the ambitious targets we have set out for ourselves," he said.

Referring to the Centrally-sponsored schemes for development of state roads, the minister said during 2008-09, the total accrual under Central Road Fund (CRF) was Rs 1,671.64 crore and the available allocation under the Economic Importance and Inter-State Connectivity Schemes (IE&ISC) works was Rs 185.74 crore. He asked the states to ensure that there are no unspent allocations and also to ensure that adequate priority was accorded to proper signage and markings, provision for crash barriers especially in hilly areas with a focus on improvement in geometrics to enhance the safety.

Mr Baalu informed that during 2006, there were around 4.6 lakh road accidents which killed 1,05,749 people and injured close to five lakh people in India. These numbers translate into one road accident every minute and one road accident death every five minutes for India. At the prices of year 2000, it amounted to 3 per cent of the GDP which in financial terms came to Rs 55,000 crore a year, he added.

He informed that Rs 1,931.29 crore had been allocated in the Annual Plan 2008-09 for the states for National Highways (Original) works. An allocation of Rs 210 crore has also been made to NHAI for works under NH(O) during 2008-09. Unlike in previous years, the allocations to the states were being released in phases during the current year considering their requirements and the progress of expenditure incurred. He, therefore, urged the states to ensure that the funds allocated are utilised substantially by October 2008 so that demand for additional allocation could be made at Revised Estimate stage.

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