P. Sunderarajan

NEW DELHI: The Union Cabinet's Committee on Infrastructure (CCI) on Thursday cleared a proposal to develop a multi-purpose berth at Paradip Port at an estimated cost of Rs.387 crore. The project envisages the construction of facilities for handling containers and ‘clean cargo,' totalling five million tonnes per year, with a view to decongesting the port and reducing the turn-around time for vessels. It is scheduled to be completed within three years.

Chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the panel also gave the green signal for a host of highway development projects, including the six-laning of the Hosur-Krishnagiri section of National Highway 7 at a cost of Rs.535 crore and the two-laning of the Dindigul-Theni section of NH-45 (extension) and the Theni-Kumli section of NH-220 in Tamil Nadu at an estimated cost of Rs.501 crore.

Other highlights of the highway development projects approved are: the four laning of a section of NH-17 from the Karnataka-Kerala border to Kannur at a cost of Rs.1,563 crore; four-laning of the Nagpur-Betul section of NH-89 in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh at a cost of Rs.2,498 crore; rehabilitation and four-laning of the Barhi-Hazaribagh section of NH-33 in Jharkhand at an estimated cost of Rs.414 crore; and the six-laning of the Dhankuni-Kharagpur section of NH-6 in West Bengal at an estimated cost of Rs.1,396 crore.

The panel also gave the nod to the four-laning of a section of NH-6 from the Orissa-Chhattisgarh border to Sambalpur, and the Bhubaneswar-Puri section of NH -203 in Orissa; upgrading to two-lane the Multai-Seoni section of NH -69A and the Narsinghpur-Amrawada-Saoner section of NH -26B in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra; two-laning of the Chapra-Hazipur section of NH -19 in Bihar; and the four-laning of the Jorabat-Barapani section of NH-40 in Assam and Meghalaya.

The panel further approved the updating of the project cost for widening the Nechipu-Hoj stretch and Potin-Pangin stretch under the Trans-Arunachal Highway project to Rs.1,486 crore and Rs.1,985 crore respectively.

The highway project in the border area is designed to improve the internal connectivity of the various districts of Arunachal Pradesh and help security forces combat anti-national activities more effectively.

The Union Cabinet's Committee on Economic Affairs also met on Thursday and gave the go-ahead for the modification of the National Means-cum-Merit Scheme, in order to wind up the corpus of Rs.1,000 crore with the State Bank of India (SBI) and instead make an annual provision in the Budget towards the scholarship amount and reimbursement of the cost of conducting the selection tests.