Five new highways planned to cut down travel time

download (4)Source: The Economic Times, May 14, 2018

The highways ministry has identified at least five greenfield road networks connecting major industrial and manufacturing hubs, which will reduce the existing distance on these stretches up to 200 km. Last month, the government announced starting work on another greenfield expressway connecting Gurgaon with Mumbai cutting the distance by almost 200 km.

The new routes that have been identified include Bhatinda-Kandla, Bhatinda-Ajmer, Raipur-Vishakhapatnam, Chennai-Salem and Ambala-Katputli. Two more stretches have also been identified to improve connectivity between important cities. These are Durg-Aurang in Chhattisgarh and Mangalore-Chitradurga in Karnataka.

The highways ministry has decided to build more greenfield highways with straight alignment rather than expanding the existing corridors, which helps avoid delay in land acquisition, high cost for procuring land and removing encroachments.

Sources said the new alignment between Bhatinda and Kandla passing through Hanumangarh, Bikaner, Jodhpur, Barmer and Sanchore in Rajasthan will bring down the current distance of 1,100 km to almost 900 km. The proposed 4-lane greenfield highway will involve less expenditure and will open up new areas for development.

Similarly, the new alignment between Bhatinda and Ajmer passing through Sirsa in Haryana and Sikar in Rajasthan will reduce the distance by at least 120 km. Sources said the greenfield highway between Chennai and Salem in Tamil Nadu will bring down the distance by 70 km.

“One of the main focus of these new alignments will be to provide connectivity to some of the underdeveloped areas as highway connectivity will push development in those regions. Second, new roads will free up the congested highways and thereby improve the traffic flow. ,” said a ministry official.

In March, the ministry had said that land situated along/abutting an existing road cost at least twice as much as land elsewhere.According to the ministry, putting together all costs involved in expansion of highways, including expenses on land acquisition, building safe passages for vehicle and pedestrians, tree cutting and compensatory afforestation may come close to building a new highway.

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