Union minister Nitin Gadkari recently said the ongoing work on the Mumbai-Goa national highway will get over by December this year, which would cut the travel time between these places to four-and-a-half hours and give a huge boost to development in Maharashtra's Konkan region.
He was speaking to reporters at Ratnagiri, around 340 km.
"The Mumbai to Goa highway stretch has been divided into 10 packages (phases) and road construction activity in all packages, except two, is almost over. Most of the pending construction work on the road and one tunnel will be completed by December this year," the Minister of Road Transport and Highways said.
"By December, the entire stretch will be available for vehicular movement and the distance can be completed in four-and-a-half hours," he said.
Gadkari said he has instructed the officials to conduct road safety audits and put international standard signages for the drivers on the Mumbai-Goa highway.
With the help of local educational institutes, three metre tall saplings can be planted on both sides of the highway, he said.
As a part of the highway construction, two tunnels are also under construction in the Kashedi ghat region. "One tunnel will be open for vehicular traffic before the monsoon season. The construction of the remaining tunnel will be completed by October this year," he said.
When asked about the toll, Gadkari said, "As per the rules, if 75 per cent of the road construction is completed then toll is charged. People need to pay it."
Earlier, speaking in Panvel town in neighbouring Raigad district on the sidelines of the 'bhoomi pujan' of the concretisation of the Palaspe-Indupur route and some other stretches, Gadkari said the work on the Mumbai-Goa highway will hugely boost development prospects of the Konkan area.
"The Mumbai-Goa highway touches 66 tourism spots in Konkan. It will give development a big boost. It will also ensure quick transportation of fruits and other produce the region is famous for," he said.
He blamed the contractors, who were given two stretches of the highway for construction in 2011, for the delay.
"However, all matters are resolved now and the highway, which also connects Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Dighi port, will help in the progress of the country," Gadkari said.
He added that several works in the coastal Konkan region were held up due to issues like land acquisition, permissions, contractor problems.
He also asked state governments to go in for roads with 6-8 inch topping so that they have a life of 50 years, as well as periodic updating of black spots for proactive rectification.
"India sees 5 lakh road accidents a year, of which 1.5 lakh are fatal, with many of those dead in the 18-34 age group. This is distressing. All efforts must be taken to curb accidents," he said.
Maharashtra must study the feasibility of seaplane, hovercraft and water taxi systems for the Konkan region, which is blessed with a long coastline, for tourism and transport purposes, the Union minister said.
Gadkari said his ministry was in the process of introducing satellite-based fare collection on highways instead of having toll nakas that obstruct free flow of traffic.
The minister also announced the construction of Rs. 13,000 crore Morbe-Karanjade road, which will go through the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) at Uran in Raigad and reduce the time needed to cover the distance between Mumbai and Delhi to 12 hours.
Work on the Rs. 1,200 crore Kalamboli junction and Rs. 1,200 crore Pagode junction will also begin soon, he said.
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