Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways & Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), Nitin Gadkari virtually laid the foundation stones of nine national highway projects with a total length of nearly 262 km worth over Rs 27.52 billion in Tripura on Tuesday.
In a tweet sent from his official handle, minister Gadkari noted, “The 262 km long road projects will be instrumental in increasing tourism in trade and will further boost the connectivity in North East. It will also improve the lives of people by reducing logistic costs.”
Speaking at the event, Gadkari said that nearly 300 km of national highway length was added in Tripura in the last six years. Today, there was over 850 km of national highways in the state. He informed that roads worth Rs 80 billion were under construction in the Northeastern state, with as much as Rs 3.65 billion disbursed towards land acquisition costs from 2015-20. He said the refurbishing and development of national highways would improve connectivity to all the districts and major cities in Tripura.
The minister said that two important projects would be shortly completed in the state. These were the Feni Bridge and the Udaipur-Agartala road. The 49 km two-lane Udaipur-Agartala road worth Rs 7.5 billion would be completed in November. The 1.8 km-long Feni Bridge between Sabrum on the Indian side and Ramgarh on the Bangladesh side costing Rs 1.29 billion would be completed by December this year. The bridge was important from social, economic and strategic points of view as it would help in easing the transportation of goods in the 75 km distance between Chittagong and Kolkata ports, he said. Furthermore, an integrated check post was also proposed near Sabrum.
Gadkari said the construction of the RCC bridge over River Feni would improve connectivity to the international border with Bangladesh. The detailed project report (DPR) for the four-lane bypass on the western side of Agartala City was under preparation. The project’s completion would further improve the connectivity of National Highway (NH)-8 to NH-108B in the state of Tripura, reduce traffic congestion in Agartala city and connect Matabari with Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport. The connectivity of Agartala city to Assam Border through NH-108B, 208 and 208A would provide shorter length connectivity.
The upgrade of Agartala to Khowai (NH 108B) and Kailashahar to Assam Border (NH-208A) had already been awarded. The refurbishment of the balance section of Kailashahar to Khowai (NH-208) was proposed under the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) funding. Bids for the section had already been received and work was likely to be awarded soon. He added that the DPR for the conversion of NH-08 from Agartala to Churaibari – the lifeline of Tripura – into a four-lane highway was under preparation and would enhance inter-state connectivity from the state capital Agartala.
The minister informed that DPRs for four projects of 367 km worth Rs 75.23 billion were under preparation. He said, a sum of Rs 110 million had been released to the state under the Central Road Infrastructure Fund (CRIF), and a further sum of Rs 200 million would be released upon submission of the utilisation certificate by the state government.
Development Projects to Provide Boost to Cross-Border Trading
Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region, Dr. Jitendra Singh said that with all the eight states of the Northeast currently witnessing the creation of a series of development projects, the region would play an important role. He said since 2014 a massive effort was underway to bring the Northeastern region at par with the other regions of the country. He added that the Central Government was committed to developing all the eight states of the region at par with the country’s western region.
Dr. Singh lauded Gadkari for sanctioning and completing several major infrastructure projects in the Northeastern region in the last six years. He said that the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (MDoNER) had also chipped in with all resources at its disposal to present the region as a new model of development for the entire country.
Describing Tripura as the gateway to the Northeast under the ‘Act East Policy’, Dr. Singh said that soon there would be a train to Bangladesh from Tripura to provide it with access to seaports in the neighbouring country. He added that this would boost the cross-border trade, especially with India's eastern neighbours.
The 15 km rail line project from Tripura to Bangladesh’s Akhaura is being jointly developed by the Indian Railways and Bangladesh Railways at a budget of nearly Rs 9.7 billion.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), Gen (Retd) Dr. VK Singh said that the projects would not only facilitate faster inter-state and international connectivity to Bangladesh but also strengthen Tripura’s tourism sector on completion. These were likely to generate a large number of job opportunities in the unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled categories. The projects would also reduce travel time and maintenance costs of the vehicles and contribute to the saving of fuel.
Also addressing the event, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb said that the people of the state were indebted to the centre for having prioritised it for development. He averred the new roads would be a boon for the people as these will provide all-weather connectivity in the hilly and rainy state.