Punjab Chief Minister Capt.Amarinder Singh on Thursday met Union Minister of Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari here to discuss the proposed Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway as well as various pending Punjab road and highway projects.
The discussion on the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra highway, which was also attended by Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal and Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Dr. Nirmal Singh, focused on road alignment and land acquisition costs for the project.
Capt. Amarinder said the Centre should pay all the acquisition costs for the highway, because of the state’s poor fiscal health. The Chief Minister was in favour of aligning the road via Pathankot into Amritsar to Taran Taran to Moga to Barnala and Samana before moving into Haryana, in order to encourage the development of these areas, which were lagging in industrial development.
Though the NHAI has invited bids for the appointment of Consultant to conduct a feasibility study and prepare a DPR for the proposed expressway, the process is going on at a slow pace, Capt. Amarinder pointed out, urging the Ministry to expedite construction of the proposed Expressway.
Mr.Gadkari suggested the formation of a group of revenue secretaries from the three states as well as the central government to study and recommend the modalities of the acquisition process. Acknowledging the inability of the states to share the acquisition burden, he assured that he would find ways to save them from the cost. The states could instead provide government land for formation of logistic hubs, industrial parks and so on.
The Chief Minister also raised various issues relating to development of roads and highways in Punjab. He urged Mr.Gadkari to intervene to expedite the various pending proposals and projects. These included approval for connecting the remaining four district headquarters with 4/6 lane National Highways, besides declaration of Khanna-Malerkotla-Raikot-Jagraon-Nakodar as a new National Highway.
Pointing out that 18 of the 22 districts of Punjab were already connected with 4/6 lane National Highways, Captain Amarinder said only Ferozepur, Mansa, Sri Muktsar Sahib and Fazilka districts still continue to be connected with 2-lane National Highways. His request for connecting these to 4/6 lane National Highways through approval of 4-laning of Barnala-Mansa section of NH-703 and Dabwali-Malout-Abohar-Fazilka section of NH-10 was pending with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), he added.
Capt.Amarinder also requested that NHAI be directed to speed up the process of upgradation of Talwandi-Ferozepur and Sri Mukatsar Sahib-Malout sections, apart from declaration of Khanna-Malerkotla-Raikot-Jagraon-Nakodar as new National Highway as it connects NH-1 (Now NH-44) No.1 through NH-95 with NH-71.
He also sought entrustment of the four-laning projects to the State PWD (B&R), which had a dedicated staff to work on implementation of National Highway projects.
He further urged the Minister to resolve the pending issues related to 4-laning of Ludhiana-Talwandi Bhai section of NH-95 road, for which work was started in March 2012 by the NHAI through the consultant (M/s Essel Infrastructure) on BOT basis but was subsequently stopped. The suspension of work, he said, was causing a lot of inconvenience to the people.
The Chief Minister was accompanied by Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal, his Media Advisor Raveen Thukral and Chief Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar.