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Till Jan 16, no diversion of Cortalim-Verna traffic

PANAJI: The high-level meeting of the state government on Friday decided not to divert traffic before January 16, 2019 between Cortalim and Verna, a stretch of national highway-17, on which construction work of new Zuari bridge is underway.

The meeting attended by Minister for Public Works Ramakrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar, Agriculture Minister Vijai Sardesai, Panchayat Minister Mauvin Godinho, MLA Alina Saldanha and Glen Ticlo besides officials of PWD and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) held at Secretariat also decided to inspect the Cortalim-Verna stretch on December 30 to check whether a service road through fields nearby can be constructed for the movement of traffic.

In order to avoid inconvenience to the general public who travels from Margao to Panaji and back, the government has decided to explore other alternatives for the movement of traffic at 3-km stretch between Cortalim and Verna.

Dhavalikar said that the meeting discussed pros and cons of diverting the traffic in view of construction of the bridge with the constructing firm Dilip BuildCon requesting that the road stretch be closed for one year.

He said that the suggestion about taking up the paddy fields on rent to construct a service road to ensure that the traffic flow is smooth was considered and would be taken up with the farmers, adding that the government might propose closure of Verna-Cortalim road for a trial period of one month to examine the issues and difficulties that will crop up due to closure of the crucial road stretch.

The team comprising of ministers like Sardesai, Godinho, MLA Saldanha and South Goa Collector has been authorised to talk to farmers from the area for taking field area on rent or lease for making a provision of a service road.

The inspection of the place from Cortalim to Verna will be carried out on December 30 at 4 pm to take stock of the situation.

“The proposal for road closure has been made considering the safety of the travelers. We don’t want to behave irresponsibly,” the PWD Minister said.

Dhavalikar said that the entire issue would be discussed with Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar after December 30, before taking a final call.

Agriculture Minister Sardesai emphasised that the road will not be closed before January 16 considering the fact that the feast of St Joseph Vaz is being held adding, “If there is any diversion, it will not be before January 16.”

He said that the aspect of compensating the farmers for using their paddy field for construction of temporary service road is also being thought about.

It is also informed that on an average one lakh vehicles pass through this road and during Christmas to New Year, the number of vehicles goes up to 1.5 lakh per day.

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