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Centre to launch `20,000 cr road projects in North-East

Centre to launch `20,000 cr road projects in North-East
Making up for the lost ground, the Centre on Saturday said that it will start Rs 20,000-crore road projects, besides developing inland waterways, in the North-East by the end of this year to improve infrastructure in the region. “By the end of December this year, we will award road projects worth Rs 20,000 crore in the North-East. These will be spread across the region for improving the infrastructure, which will help the economy of the North-East,” Union Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Jairam Gadkari said at a press conference here.

The projects will have a long gestation period and will be implemented by public sector undertakings, besides private entities, in the public-private partnership mode, he added. “Of these, around Rs 6,000-crore projects will be in Arunachal Pradesh while projects worth of Rs 8,000 crore will be developed in Assam. The remaining will be for other parts of the region,” Gadkari said.

Currently, Rs 31,025 crore worth of roads running into over 3,700 km are under development, which are being constructed by 10 players through 104 projects. Gadkari, in the same breath, called upon the North-Eastern states to acquire land and secure necessary environmental clearances before the Ministry of Road Transport and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) can go ahead with these projects.

He said the central government will encourage local contractors in the region by awarding smaller sizes of road projects, thus providing employment there. “These measures will ease the bottlenecks in establishing road projects,” he added.

On inland waterways, Gadkari said the Centre will bring in a piece of legislation soon to declare 13 more national waterways on as many rivers in the North-East. These rivers are Barak, Lohit, Subansiri, Gangadhar, Aai, Beki, Puthimari, Kopili, Dihing, Dhansiri, Dikhow, Doyang and Tlawng.
“Construction of a ship repair facility at Pandu in Guwahati will start by October this year. We will have a dry dock there at a cost of Rs 50 crore,” the Minister said. The Minister also reached out to all separatist groups operating in the region to shun violence and “join the mainstream to be part of the development story”.

Gadkari further said his Ministry has booked 95 lakh tonnes of cement from manufacturers at a cheaper rate of Rs 120 per bag, excluding transportation and taxes. “Of these 1.5 lakh tonnes have been sold. I request all the state governments here that if they are doing any construction work, please purchase it from us. It’s much cheaper than the market rate and it will significantly reduce construction cost,” he added. 

Earlier, speaking in Umroi, Meghalaya,on Friday, Gadkari had announced Rs 5,130 crore worth road projects for the three states of Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, to improve their road network. The new roads were important for the economic growth of the north east, he said, adding that the 102-km Jowai-Ratacherra road in Meghalaya would be built at an estimated cost of Rs 630 crore.

“The Centre has allocated Rs 5,130 crore for road projects for Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh,” Gadkari said. The Jowai-Ratacherra road would be the lifeline for the eastern Meghalaya district of East Jaintia Hills, he said, adding “I assure you that we will start this project within three months.” The Centre, Gadkari said, had sanctioned three projects in Nagaland. The detailed project reports have been prepared and work on the them would start in three to four months.

The projects are four-laning of 48-km Dimapur-Kohima road, the 35-km-long four lane Dimapur by-pass and the 17-km-long Kohima by-pass, he said. Gadkari said the cost for construction of the 100-km road in Nagaland is estimated to be Rs 2,000 crore.

Referring to Arunachal Pradesh, he said a new road project costing Rs 2,500 crore is expected to start within two months. On the East?West corridor in Assam, the Union Minister said the project which is important for Assam, Meghalaya and Nagaland is expected to be completed by December 2015.

“About 570-km road length has been completed under various packages...The remaining length of 69-km is likely to be completed by December 2015,” he said, adding that some packages from Jatinga and ahead in Assam were held up due to land acquisition and landslide issues. 
The Union Minister was here to dedicate to the nation two important roads in Meghalaya, which also connect Tripura, Mizoram, lower eastern Assam and parts of Manipur with the rest of the country.
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