ANDHRA PRADESH

CM to take up NH 214 issue with Centre

VIJAYAWADA SEPT. 6. The Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, has said that the Rs. 71-crore bridge across the Krishna joining Puligadda and Penumudi would be completed in one year and agreed to name it after N.T. Rama Rao.

Laying foundation-stone for the bridge at Puligadda in Krishna district today, Mr. Naidu said the State Government would prevail on the Centre to take up National Highway No. 214 from Kathipudi to Ongole via Puligadda expeditiously. The coastal highway passing through Kakinada, Yanam, Amalapuram, Razole, Narsapuram, Mogaltur, Pallepalem, Bantumilli, Pedana, Machilipatnam, Challapalli, Puligadda, Repalle, Chandole, Baptla, Chirala would join the Kolkata-Chennai NH 5 at Ongole. It would not only improve communication facilities to backward coastal villages but provide a parallel road to NH 5.

The bridge would be constructed under build-operate-transfer (BOT) by Navayuga Engineering Company of Visakhapatnam. While the State Government provide Rs. 37 crores as subsidy, the contractor would meet the balance cost of Rs. 34 crores and complete the bridge within 18 months. But the Chief Minister asked the company to complete the bridge within one year.

Mr. Naidu said he had visited Diviseema in 1977 when it was hit by tidal wave to render service.

He again visited it in 1992 when Krishna river received 9.2 lakh cusecs of flood waters and realised the need for construction of a bridge. But when he made a proposal for NH 214 with bridge at Puligadda, he was discouraged by some people on the plea that the Centre would ask the State to meet the cost.

He decided to construct the bridge to provide link to coastal villages on either side of the river. He said he would exert pressure on the Centre to take up the road work soon and usher in prosperity to coastal areas.

Large number of people attended the meeting enthusiastically as the bridge would fulfil their long-pending demand. But farmers raised slogans seeking water for Krishna delta from Nagarjunasagar. "Release water and save kharif crop,'' they chanted. The Chief Minister tried to pacify them and appealed to them to remain calm and listen to him. He assured them all steps would be taken to protect the crop in Krishna delta. "First priority would be given to Krishna delta,'' he said.

He pointed out that Karnataka was holding 176 tmcft of water at Alamatti and Narayanpur even though it did not have the canal system ready for making use of them. So the State Government had written a letter seeking at least 50 tmcft of water to meet our needs. But there had been no response from Karnataka till now. "If it releases 50 tmcft, the situation can be managed with local rainfall,'' he felt.

Referring to salinity problem being felt in coastal areas, he said steps would be taken to tackle it.

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