State highways to be developed at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore

9:51 AM, Thursday, December 19th, 2013
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state highwayBangalore: The State government will take up development of 3,745 km of State Highway (SH) at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore under the second phase of State Highway Development Project (SHDP), Public Works Minister H C Mahadevappa said on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters, he said widening of narrow stretches, asphalting, pothole filling and construction of pavements will be done under the project. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is scheduled to launch the project, he added.

The government has set a target to develop about 6,000 km of SH and major district roads by March 2014. About 1,000 km of SH have been already upgraded under the SHDP phase one. The Union government has agreed to release Rs 1,800 crore to Karnataka under the Central Road Fund and this money will be utilised to upgrade road network, he added.

He said steps are being taken to re-tender the work for development of four roads proposed to be implemented under Karnataka State Highway Improvement Project-II. These roads are as follows: Shikaripura-Shimoga-Hangal, Basavanabagevadi-Raichur, Malavalli-Pavagada and Nippani-Mudhol.

While parrying a query on the plan to collect toll from users of state highways, the minister defended such a policy stating that money is required for the upkeep of roads.

“Karnataka has about 80,000 km of State highway. It is difficult to mobilise funds for their maintenance. Hence, collection of toll from the users is necessary,” he said.

The Union Surface Transport Ministry has decided to upgrade NH-212 (Kozhikode in Kerala to Kollegal in Karnataka). Besides, the existing Mysore-Nanjungud two-lane road will be upgraded into four-lane. The project is estimated to cost Rs 542 crore.

 The ministry has also agreed to upgrade NH-13 (Chitradurga to Shimoga) at a cost of Rs 324 crore, he said. A sum of Rs 95 crore has been sanctioned for the development of Shiradi Ghat Road and the National Highway division of PWD will soon take up the work, the minister added.

Defends secretary

Mahadevappa strongly defended the government’s decision to elevate Chikkarayappa as PWD secretary, who has been facing charges of corruption. “Courts have dismissed all cases against him. Documents prove this. I don’t know why it (his elevation) has been made such a big issue,” he stated.

When asked why the government has given the posting despite the officer facing serious allegations, the minister lost his cool and flung a set of documents before the reporters, asking them to go through them. “There were five different cases against him and the court has dismissed all of them,” he added.

The issue was also raised during the recent visit of AICC general secretary (Karnataka incharge) Digvijay Singh to Bangalore. A section of Congress leaders, who are upset with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah for not making them ministers, is learnt to have tried to bring the officer’s elevation to the notice of Singh.

 Mahadevappa further said the government is not interested in protecting any corrupt officer.

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