Road linking three States to be upgraded

Special Correspondent

GVR consortium proposes to re-lay the road

Centre and State governments to also pitch in

GULBARGA: The long-pending project for upgrading the only inter-State highway connecting Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh that passes through Gulbarga district is in the final stages of approval.

The road connecting Waghdhari in Solapur district of Maharashtra and Ripponpalli in Andhra Pradesh, which passes through Gulbarga for 140 km, will be upgraded at a cost of Rs. 240 crore. In about three years’ time, the road, which will facilitate trade between the three States, will be ready.

Sharanprakash Patil, Sedam MLA, told The Hindu that the tender proposal submitted by the Andhra Pradesh-based GVR consortium for re-laying the road on build, operate, transfer (BOT) basis, had been approved by the authorities.

Dr. Patil said the Finance Department had also approved the proposal, which would be placed before the Cabinet for final clearance.

The demand for upgrading the road, which will also provide connectivity to the proposed Gulbarga airport near Srinivas Saradgi village and two important cement factories, has been pending for more than two decades. One of the major reasons for the delay was that no agency had come forward to re-lay the road on BOT basis as it was not viable to recover the invested money through toll collection. Dr. Patil said that to overcome this problem, the Government introduced a “viability gap” clause in the agreement, which would provide both the Centre and the State governments a chance to chip in with 20 per cent each of the total cost of the project. The GVR consortium, in its tender proposal, had agreed to bear 62 per cent of the project cost and had said that if the State and Central governments provided 38 per cent of the cost, it would be enough.

Dr. Patil said that once the State Cabinet approved the project, GVR consortium would be given six months’ time for financial confirmation of investment. The project would have to be executed within two years. The Central Government would release Rs. 49 crore in phases and the State Government Rs. 49 crore in instalments. The contractor who would maintain the road for 28 years would be allowed to collect toll from road users as per National Highways Authority of India regulations.

At present, the entire 140-km stretch is in poor shape and has not seen any repair for the past several years.

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