March 3, 2008
Though its four-year rule in Maharashtra is yet to bring a visible change in the state, the Democratic Front (DF) government now wishes to make amends during its final year in office.
For the 2008-09 fiscal, the state will witness large-scale road construction works, senior officials of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and Public Works Department (PWD) told ET. The two agencies, which have been keeping a low-profile during the DF rule, compared to the 1995-1999 Shiv Sena-BJP government’s period, want to make up for the lost time. “We will have many more projects to showcase before the people,” Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had said earlier.
Road works amounting to more than Rs 3,000 crore have been initiated by these two agencies across the state. All projects are being undertaken on build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis and the state agencies are collaborating with the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). Such is the project’s volume that the PWD, MSRDC and NHAI would upgrade around 900 km of roads across Maharashtra.
“Most of the roads under construction would be completed in a year or so. We are following a strategy of aggressive development in the road sector, which is one of the main drivers of socio-economic growth. Roads not only connect but also bring investment,” PWD secretary DB Deshpande told ET.
The state is using the Rs 2,000-crore grant sanctioned by the Union government to upgrade the corridors of national highways, which pass through Maharashtra. This allocation has to be used in the 2008-2009 fiscal. The work includes six-laning of the 90-km corridor between Dahisar-Talasari on Mumbai-Ahmedabad National Highway, the 275-km corridor between Satara-Karad-Kagal, which leads to Bangalore, the 86-km stretch between Igatpuri and Pimpalgaon and construction of an elevated 5.5 km long corridor bypassing the Nashik city.
“Maharashtra has always been regarded as the leading state as far as quality of road is concerned. But good roads have utility beyond the obvious connectivity point of view. The World Bank has estimated that an investment of Rs 20 lakh in road works creates one perpetual job.
We are looking at employment generation and economic potential of roads, which would be give an edge to Maharashtra in these industrially competitive times,” an MSRDC official said. Lot of action is also visible on the state highways. The PWD has got Cabinet approval for the Rs 800-crore four-laning of Shirur-Nagar-Pune-Aurangabad state highway, which is 300-km long. “Work has started on this project and should be completed by May 2009,” Mr Deshpande added.