Uttar Pradesh Government and the Centre have now crossed swords over the development of national highways in the State. Following the Mayawati Government’s decision to withdraw the State Support Agreement (SSA) with the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) the future of several road projects is in a limbo.

UP’s decision was conveyed to the Centre on April 6, 2010.

This meant that the NHAI will get no assistance from the State Government, mainly in acquisition of land for the road projects and maintenance of law and order. Sources said that the future of about 20 highways being developed by the NHAI was in jeopardy.

However, the Mayawati Government has justified its withdrawal from the SSA on the grounds that its SSA was returned by the Centre following its decision to get the national highways developed by the highway authority. The official spokesman said the fact of the matter is that the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry had returned unsigned a memorandum of understanding (MOU) sent on November 5, 2009 by the State Government.

A note stating that the national highways would be developed by the NHAI was also sent to the Government, the spokesman said. Since, the basis for signing on the state support agreement had ended following the Centre’s decision, the State withdrew the SSA, he added.

A letter was sent to the secretary of the Union Highways Ministry, dated January 13, 2010, stating that seven expressways and 25 state highways would be developed by the state agencies and the UP Expressway Development Authority (UPEDA) on the basis of public-private partnership (PPP) model. The Centre was informed that preliminary work on these projects had started.

The spokesman added that the decision to return the State’s MOU was in contravention of the decision taken in principle by the Central Government and the Planning Commission.