It looks like Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has managed to get a good basket of bounties in return for avowing his support for Congress’ Presidential candidate, Pranab Mukherjee.
Apart from hiking the annual Plan expenditure by almost 30 per cent to Rs. 28,000 crore, the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has promised to extend the special assistance package to the State during the 12 Plan period as well. Mr. Singh assured Mr. Kumar that the Cabinet approval would be secured soon.
On Tuesday, Mr. Kumar called on Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, C. P. Joshi, and extracted the Centre’s approval for a second bridge on the river Ganga, to replace the dilapidated Mahatma Gandhi Setu Bridge connecting Patna and Hajipur on the northern end.
The bridge, to be set up in the PPP mode, is expected to be completed in approximately five to six years at an estimated cost of Rs. 2000 crore.
Dr. Joshi agreed to bear the cost of repairs of the Mahatma Gandhi Setu Bridge for the next five years, which would be maintained by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
Dr. Joshi also agreed to consider Mr. Kumar’s plea to refrain from levying toll on the Mahatma Gandhi Setu Bridge for the next few years, as the number of waiting vehicles in the queue was only aggravating the problem.
Prior to this, Union Minister of Rural Development, Jairam Ramesh, cleared Rs. 3,800 crore, which had been held up due to various irritants between the Centre and the State for more than two-and-a-half years. As a first tranche, Rs. 915 crore has been released for constructing 1900 km of roads, under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana in seven Left Wing Extremist-affected districts.