Naxal-hit states to get highways soon

Finally, the Centre’s ambitious plan of constructing highways in 33 extremist-affected districts spread in eight states involving Rs 7,000 crore is set to take off. However, this will happen only when the state governments ensure safety and security to build the highways. Sources in the road, transport and highways ministry said nearly 1,200 km could be built in the presence of paramilitary forces whereas in other areas, police support and intelligence inputs would serve the purpose. Talking toreporters at the Economic Editors’ Conference, highways minister Kamal Nath said the government has already sanctioned Rs 500 crore for construction of these twolane highways in this financial year.
Nath said these districts were in Naxal-hit Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh. “All these projects will be on cash contract. The ministry will make the full investment,’’ said a senior ministry official. He added that highways to be built in these areas had been divided under three categories on the basis of support of security forces in laying the roads. Work under category three, which was identified as the most critical one, would be taken up in the end. “There, we have to have adequate presence of security forces, else the contractor cannot undertake the work. Major portion of the project falls in Chhattisgarh,’’ the official said.

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