Highway projects in BJP states put in fast lane

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The central government has begun clearing impediments to investments in large projects across states.

To begin with, four national highway projects stu­ck in Rajasthan and five in Madhya Pradesh have been taken up for ‘de-bottlenecking’ the ventures and revive them for implementation.

The BJP-ruled Rajasthan and Madhya Pra­desh governments have alleged discrimination by the UPA government towards completing infrastructure projects. Having reviewed highway projects in the two sta­tes earlier this week, planning minister Rao Inderjit Singh will submit a proposal to prime minister Narendra Modi for appro­val. Modi is also chairman of pla­n­ning commission.

One such project stuck in Rajasthan was the 555-km-long stret­c­h on national high­way 8 between Kishang­arh–Udai­p­ur and Ahmedabad that was being executed by the GMR group with an investment of Rs 7,700 crore. GMR had announced pulling out of the project.

While the company had cited approvals not coming its way, the Centre had taken the position that the firm was facing shortage of funds to be able to complete the project.

Similarly, the Shivpuri–Dewas expressway in Madhya Pradesh had come to a standstill after the GVK group pulled out of the project.

“In both these projects, implementation was held up because of pending regulatory clearances, especially from the environment and forest departments. It’s also true that the companies liquidity crunch,” said a top official privy to proceedings in the planning commission.

Another mega project that came up for discussion was the Delhi–Jaipur 225 km expressway on national highway 8 that has hit tourist influx into the Pink City. “The idea is to ensure that states get a better deal vis-à-vis central assistance and clearances that will be facilitated by the planning commission,” official said .

Several roads projects have faced protracted delays, some have been abandoned for want of land acquisition while in yet other cases, central government clearances never came. As per planning commission data, about 58 ongoing roads projects are experiencing implementation delays across Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, MP, AP and the North East.

More than 18 roads projects are facing virtual disbandment in Assam and other northeastern states. Gujarat figures among 13-opposition ruled states where a large number of infrastructure projects have been stuck for want of regulatory clearances.

Of these, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh were ruled by BJP. While 31 projects with projected investment of Rs 200,000 crore have been stuck, MP has 18 followed by Gujarat with 14 ventures and Rajasthan with 12 projects.

In the next round, road projects in Chhattisgarh and Gujarat are likely to come up for review and an action plan to implement them would be put up for prime minister Narendra Modi’s approval.


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