Allocation for Highways Department raised to Rs.6,452.77 crore

The State government has announced the formation of Tamil Nadu State Highways Authority (TNSHA) on the lines of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to maintain and manage roads as per global standards.

The formation of the Authority will be followed by entrusting major State Highways to the TNSHA, said Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam presenting the Budget.

While the formation of TNSHA was greeted by road experts, they cautioned that more roads are likely to come under the toll system in the future. According to them, major roads and those facing huge traffic volume would be developed on public-private-partnership mode and the contractor would be allowed to recover his investment through the toll system.

On the other hand, port users expressed dismay over the State government’s silence on the progress of North Port Access Road and North Chennai Thermal Power Station Road that are going to be the crucial link to two ports in North Chennai.

Mr. Panneerselvam said the State government was taking steps to upgrade and strengthen roads in a phased manner.

About 168 km of State Highways will be widened from intermediate lane to double lane and 1,000 km of major district roads would be widened from single lane to intermediate lane during the year under the Comprehensive Road Infrastructure Development Programme (CRIDP). Besides, 3,500 km of roads will also be strengthened. An amount of Rs.2,032 crore was allocated for the CRIDP in the budget estimates.

During the current year, the government would take up improvement of 3,095.77 km of roads at a cost of Rs.1,130.10 crore under the Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) Phase-VIII. Out of these, 45 bridges at a cost of Rs.78.18 crore and 2,031.22 km of works (at Rs.772.97 crore) would be taken up by rural local bodies and 1,064.55 km of works (Rs.278.95 crore) by the Highways Department.

To cope with the increase in traffic, the Government enhanced allocation for the Highways Department to Rs.6,452.77 crore from Rs.5,615.71 crore.

Mr. Panneeselvam said Rs.191.60 crore was earmarked to undertake various road works and Rs.233 crore for bridge works with NABARD assistance.

The Performance Based Maintenance Contract (PBMC) model would be tried on pilot basis in the Pollachi sub division that will be upscaled to other areas. To address the issue of raising accumulated losses of the State Transport Undertakings (STUs), the government would constitute a high-level expert committee to suggest measures to improve its operational efficiency of various STUs.

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