Roadblocks for NH-widening in Goa

October 24, 2011

PANAJI: While nationally highways are being added at the rate of 11km-per-day, in Goa the national highways authority of India’s project to widen NH 4-A is yet to take off, a year-and-a-half after it was tendered. In fact, a status update of the project shows it is fast heading towards being re-tendered. The latter is already the fate of Goa’s other national highway-NH 17.

The delays in both projects are courtesy the state government’s demand for flyovers, realignments, toll exemptions for light motor vehicles, and overall delays in handing over the required land. These demands, in fact, led to the cost of widening NH 17, estimated and tendered in 2010 at 3,100 crore, to shoot up by over 806 crore. NHAI sources say the project may be retendered.

Similarly, when IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd, Mumbai, was awarded the contract to widen the 65km-long NH 4-A in early 2010, the cost was estimated at 471 crore. Now, additional demands by the state government to construct more flyovers, more underpasses and change the alignment has raised the project cost by 106 crore, sources said. “The work is already awarded and there is no way the NHAI is going to bear such a high additional burden,” sources in the authority told TOI.

Incidentally, the land for widening the highway that connects the state to Karnataka via Ponda has also yet to be handed over to NHAI in both, North and South Goa.

Sources in the land acquisition section of the South Goa collectorate confirmed non-acquisition of land in the district. Clearances from the state wildlife board for the 10km-stretch that falls in deeply forested areas between the Mollem National Park and Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary are also pending.

The lack of clearances led to the NHAI proposal being sent to the ministry of environment and forests in May 2007, only to be returned without approval. “The project was initiated by NHAI in 2003 and is only 65km long. But it is still dragging,” sources lamented.

From P1

The last nail in the NH 4-A coffin is probably the demand by the state government that non-commercial LMVs should be exempted from toll. “This demand cannot be accepted. Toll policy on national highways is finalized by the central government. This is a BOT (build-own-transfer) project being built under the public-private-partnership model. Toll is the only source of revenue for the contractor. If it is exempted, nobody will want to come to Goa,” said an NHAI source.

Sources in the authority further added that the economic evaluation of the project showed benefits that include reduction in vehicle operation cost, reduction in travel time and reduction in accident cost. Analysis period was taken as 30 years from the date of operation.

The Goa-Belgaum road is considered very important. There is a substantial movement of iron ore on the road. Other necessities like vegetables, fruits, etc, from Karnataka to Goa are also transported via this route. The road witnesses about 50 or 60 accidents every year due to mining traffic. If it is widened, this will stop, sources said.

The NH 17 widening project connecting Patradevi to Polem has long been bogged in controversy and delayed over proposed demolitions along the route in Goa. As reported earlier, the land acquisition procedure for widening NH 17 lapsed in the first week of April. tnn


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