In a major boost to road connectivity in the region, the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has accorded approval to a long pending demand to construct ring roads in six cities in Punjab, including Mohali/Chandigarh, and two cities in Haryana and has entrusted these projects to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
In a reply to an application filed by The Indian Express under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking a status report on the long pending projects, the ministry has informed that an official communication regarding the approval to the ring roads was conveyed to the Chairman, NHAI, and state governments of Punjab and Haryana in December 2018.
In Punjab, the ring roads will be made around Centre nod for ring roads in major Punjab, Haryana cities Mohali/Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala, Sangrur and Bathinda. Final approval for a ring road for Ambala and construction of an eastern bypass for Karnal has also been approved, the ministry informed.
The December 4, 2018 letter written by the road transport ministry to Chairman NHAI, a copy of which has been provided under the RTI Act, states that with the approval of the competent authority in the ministry, these projects are entrusted to NHAI to be taken up under Bharatmala Phase-1 as the state governments of Punjab and Haryana have already agreed to bear 50 per cent cost of land acquisition under the scheme of Bharatmala Pariyojana as approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA).
The NHAI has now been asked to get in touch with the state governments of Punjab and Haryana for preparation of the alignment of these ring roads.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Vishal Gupta, Chief General Manager, NHAI Regional Office, Chandigarh, said that the work on the projects would only begun once the Detailed Project Reports (DPR) were submitted along with the alignment of the road. “The stage of execution will come once they give the project reports. Whether land will be acquired by the state or us will also have to be seen because in the past there has been an issue with Punjab that their 50 per cent share has been pending. A proposal is pending with the Ministry in this regard asking the state government to pay the 50 per cent amount in advance,” he said.
Punjab PWD Minister Vijay Inder Singla, said that the state government has already started the process to identify a consultant for all the six ring roads in order to make a DPR. “As far as pending dues are concerned there is no truth in this. We have received no communication from the Union Ministry in this regard. There are sovereign guarantees that a state government gives and this is certainly to possible,” he said.
In Haryana, Health Minister Anil Vij, who is also an MLA from Ambala Cantt, said that he has been taking up the matter with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari for long but the progress till date has been slow. “I have met him many times regarding pending approval to this project and today itself I have written a letter to the Union Minister, requesting him to expedite the progress. If the final approval has been given then this is a welcome step, but the NHAI needs to speed up its efforts,” he said.
NHAI officials say that as far as Karnal is concerned there already exists a bypass on one side of the city and the work to construct the eastern bypass will soon commence.