CCEA scraps major Assam road project

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Guwahati, Sep 01 (UNI) The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has scrapped the strategic Rs 1,000 crore Baihata-Itanagar highway expansion project.

The decision, which was taken last week, has not gone down well with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) as well as Assam government officials.

''The Detailed Project Report was made long ago and even the work for land acquisition for the project was well underway while the Tender process was about to begin. But we heard last week that it was scrapped,'' an NHAI official said.

The Baihata-Itanagar road was planned to be constructed in two phases. The first part from Baihata Chariali to Tezpur covered a distance of 130 kms and about Rs 650 crore were earmarked for that stretch. The other strtch from Tezpur to Itanagar covers a distance of around 145 kms.

Official sources said the objective behind the project was to make it a four lane highway to Arunachal Pradesh through the northern Assam. The initial project work had already started.

The NHAI has been constructing East-West Corridors of four lane highways from Srirampur to Silchar through North Cachar Hills district where the work remained suspended for the past five months following violence in the district.

The NHAI had ambitious plan of increasing accessibility of the region with an array of large roads but the CCEA decision had dampened the enthusiasm, a consultant engaged by the NHAI informed.

The project was supposed to be on Build Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis and would have been completed in four years as the area through which it passed is not flood prone.

Meanwhile, NHAI member Nirmal Jit Singh is scheduled to visit Assam tomorrow and is expected to meet top officials of the state government.

Assam government officials as well as a few senior Congress leaders were lobbying hard so that Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi pressurised Union Minister of Surface Transport T R Baalu to revive the project.

UNI MT DPM SS1259

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