One of the primary national highways of Himachal Pradesh, the Shimla-Mataur highway, has been declared “unviable” by the central government, and as a result, its proposed four-laning has been canceled on most stretches, Leader of Opposition Mukesh Agnihotri and Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur informed the state Legislative Assembly on Friday.
Agnihotri said no road from Himachal except the Amritsar-Una highway falls in the list of viable national highways as per a recent list prepared by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. In fact, the National Highways Authority of India has requested the ministry to hand over the Shimla-Mataur highway to the state public works department.
He said that Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari had announced national highways worth Rs 65,000 for the state, and the current state government had come to power on the basis of NH-related promises, but little has been done on ground. “At least ensure that it remains a national highway and is not handed over to the PWD,” he said.
The CM replied that 223 km of the highway connecting Shimla to Mataur in Kangra district were declared unviable, following which he took up the matter with Gadkari. On Tuesday, the Centre asked NHAI to continue to maintain the highway instead of handing it over to the PWD, he said.
“The highway is a lifeline of the state and facilitates connectivity of 9 out of 12 districts to the state capital. It’s crucial for the state’s connectivity and economic development, and is also important from the point of view of tourism. We’re regularly raised the issue with the Centre to try and get it four-laned,” he said.
Prior to being declared unviable, land acquisition process had already been initiated along the highway, he stated.
MLA LAD scheme restarted
The MLA Local Area Development Fund, which was suspended earlier due to the pandemic, has been resumed and will be disbursed in installments, CM told the Assembly. He added that among the states which had suspended the scheme, Himachal is the first one to resume it so that the institution of the MLA does not lose its strength and local development works can continue as before.
Session comes to an end
The 10-day monsoon session of the HP Assembly was adjourned sine die on Friday. Speaker Vipin Parmar called it a historic session since it was held under unusual circumstances. He said that during the session, 12 Bills were passed, replies laid for 657 questions, 55 committee reports tabled and 20 discussions held under rules 61, 62 and 130. An adjournment motion under rule 67 was allowed for the first time in the Assembly’s history, as it dealt with the rare issue of the pandemic, he said.
Thakur said that other states held very short sessions amid the pandemic, usually without Question Hour, but in Himachal, the session was held for 10 days to make up for the reduced Budget session earlier this year, and in order to maintain the state’s rich traditions of discussion and debate on public issues.
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