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Mumbai-Goa Expressway to be ready in a year: Gadkari

New Delhi: Union minister Nitin Gadkari said in the Rajya Sabha on Monday that the Mumbai-Goa Expressway Project (NH-66) will be completed within the next one year. Gadkari said this in a reply to a question in the House.

The minister said there are problems in road construction, sometimes it is due to banks and sometimes environment clearance. He said every year there are 5 lakh accidents. 1.5 lakh people die every year in road accidents. “We are highest in the world.”

There is a need to widen roads, as traffic is increasing by 10-12 per cent every year, he said, adding efforts are being made to transplant trees that are uprooted. “There are some problems. But the government has continuously taken steps to resolve issues project-wise,” he added.

“We start project only when 80 per cent of land is acquired. Land acquisition is a state subject. The district collector of a state acquires land. We are ready to pay money,” the minister said.

Gadkari said there are number of projects in Bihar that are stuck because 80 per cent land has not been acquired. Contractors exit projects because of slow land acquisition process and they claim crores in compensation from the Centre, he said, adding there is a need to come out from “this vicious circle”.

Land acquisition is a major problem in road construction projects and state governments should come out with solutions and help find a way out, Gadkari said.

He said land acquisition process is very slow in West Bengal and Bihar. “Some say don’t cut trees, others say widen roads, how can the country run like this,” he said, adding there is need to maintain a balance between environment and development.

In a written reply, the minister said the government of India approved implementation of Bharatmala Pariyojna Phase-I in

October 2017 with an estimated outlay of Rs 5,35,000 crore for development of 34,800 km length of National Highways (including 10,000 km residual NHDP road works) in the entire country.

Under this programme, 13 road projects with total length of about 506 km and total cost Rs 12,785 crore have been approved till March 2019 for Andhra Pradesh.

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