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Govt sets up division in NHAI for expressways

BS Reporter  |  Bangalore 

To seek $2.95-billion loan from World Bank.

The central government has created a new division within the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for developing expressways in the country.

The government was looking to develop 17,000 km of expressways in the country during the next few years, said Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath.

Speaking to reporters after inaugurating the 5th International Construction Equipment and Construction Technology Trade Fair, Excon 2009, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre, he said the government was looking at expressway projects between Bangalore and Mumbai, and Bangalore and Chennai, to begin with.

“We created the expressway division about 15 days ago within NHAI. We will go to Parliament for legislation in this regard,” he said. Nath said the government was in talks with the World Bank for funds of up to $2.95 billion to fund road projects in the country, including the new expressways. “The president of World Bank is visiting India on December 2, to hold further discussions in this regard,” Kamal Nath said.

Regarding the availability of funds for the ongoing expansion of highways from one to two lanes, and two to four lanes, he said: “I think funds will be in place for 2009-10. Next year’s plans are also there. We are looking at the World Bank for only future national highway projects to convert 7,000 km of highways from single-lane to two-lane.”

The government was spending Rs 20-22 crore per km for highway construction. Apart from World Bank funds, the government would use all sources to arrange funds for developing these expressways, he said.

Kamal Nath said the government was preparing further proposals for World Bank, he said. For all future expansion projects, the Centre would work jointly with the respective state governments, he said, adding that state governments’ help was essential in securing additional land for expansion of highway projects, removal of utilities, electricity lines and shifting of water lines, among other things.

“I have been very clear from the beginning. If state governments are not cooperative in this regard, we may have no choice but to abandon the projects,” he said.

In the next three weeks, the ministry would talk to state governments and iron out all issues, including road safety.

First Published: Thu, November 26 2009. 00:55 IST