K. Balchand

Projects to be taken up only if adequate security is ensured: Ministry

Rs.7,000-crore programme drawn up

Plan to construct 5,565 km of roads

NEW DELHI: The Centre appears to be sceptical about construction of roads in the country’s naxalite belt, virtually leaving the entire responsibility to the States.

Even though an ambitious Rs.7,000-crore programme has been drawn up for implementation in the 33 naxalite violence-affected districts in eight States to initiate development activities in these areas, the Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry has made it clear that these projects would be taken up only if adequate security is ensured to facilitate construction activity.

Well aware of the damage suffered by construction companies and agencies engaged in these areas, the Ministry has sought to absolve itself of the responsibility of executing the proposed projects and maintained that the work would be taken up only if the respective States and Central agencies provide adequate security arrangements.

The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has, as a matter of fact, adopted the same defensive methodology as adopted by the Indian Railways of not running passenger and freight trains through the naxalite-affected regions on days when the underground outfits enforce a bandh.

The Ministry proposes to construct 5,565 km of roads comprising 1,202 km of national highways and 4,383 km of State highways in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh at an estimated cost of Rs.7,000 crore over the next three years. As against the allocation of Rs.500 crore during the current financial year, the department has approved 22 proposals for constructing 462 km of road costing Rs.444.48 crore in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. The Ministry is processing 25 other proposals for construction of 938 km at a cost of Rs.1180.83 crore.