Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday said the Chennai-Bengaluru greenfield expressway was likely to be completed by December this year.
Responding to supplementaries in the Lok Sabha, Mr. Gadkari urged the governments of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to help the National Highway Authority of India in making available construction material such as aggregates and fly ash for the projects in the respective States.
“I am giving confidence to the House… that we are trying our level best to complete the highway before December. The distance between Chennai and Bengaluru can be covered within two hours,” the Minister said.
Mr. Gadkari said he had also spoken to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin and conveyed to him the problems faced by the NHAI in the construction of highways in the State.
“I do not want to politicise the issue. But without getting aggregate, without getting all the things that we need for the road construction, how is it possible for us to complete the road,” Mr. Gadkari said in response to a question raised by DMK member Dayanidhi Maran.
He expressed readiness to discuss the issue with the officers of the state government and officials of NHAI to find a solution to the problems in speeding up the project.
On the NH-774 greenfield highway connecting Kollam in Kerala with Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Mr. Gadkari said the Kerala government had accepted the Centre’s proposal to bear 25% of the land acquisition costs for the project, instead of 50% as agreed earlier, and was also ready to forego the state GST of 9%.
“He (Kerala CM) had accepted that but we are awaiting a formal reply from the Kerala government,” Mr. Gadkari said in response to a question by RSP member N.K. Premachandran.
“We need cooperation from the state governments, particularly the responsibilities related to the state governments regarding giving aggregate and other permissions for mining is very essential,” the Minister said.
Mr. Premachandran also sought to know whether the Centre was ready to bear the entire cost to the project if the State government refused to contribute its share.
“The Chief Minister has agreed to our proposal. We are awaiting a formal reply from the Kerala government,” Mr. Gadkari said.