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Odisha Asks More Highway Funds

Bhubaneswar:With various patches of National Highways in the State turning into ‘death traps’ due to lack of repair and maintenance, Odisha Government has urged the Union Government to allocate adequate funds in this regard.

Even as NH is a Union subject, the State Government has been entrusted with the task of improvement and maintenance of National Highways running through the State.

Odisha Minister Finance Niranjan Pujari has flagged concern over poor allocation of funds for repair and maintenance of National Highways in the State.

A memorandum has been sent to the Union Government requesting adequate funds to be provided in forthcoming Union Budget for 2021-22, which will be placed on 1 February.

It has been pointed out that quality of National Highways in Odisha has deteriorated substantially because of inadequate allocation of funds for improvement, ordinary repair and periodical renewal.

While Odisha has nearly 10,000 KM of National Highways, allocation of funds to the State seems to be much less.

According to official sources Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has allocated Rs.420 Crore for 2020-21 for all sorts of original works.

Out of the allocation of Rs.21,303 Crore for the entire country, Maharashtra gets lion share of Rs.7000 Crore and Odisha’s share is much less, admit officials.

Even as Odisha is a major Tribal Sub Plan (TSP) area, there is no allocation on TSP count as MoRTH has allocated
Rs.2145 Crore out of which Maharashtra gets Rs.1500 Crore. At least 11 major districts of Odisha are tribal dominated.

As the allocation was inadequate, the State Government has been compelled to provide funds for maintenance and repair of National Highways, which are in a state of utter disrepair causing inconvenience to the users.

Peoples’ representatives have raised alarm over deterioration of the National Highways in several parts of the State and mostly in tribal dominated districts of Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Sambalpur, Angul, Boudh, Balangir, Koraput, Malkangir, Nabarangpur and Rayagada.

Secondly, there are upgradation work going on in several stretches of National Highways to four-laning standard under National Highway Development Program (NHDP) III.

As work going on is very slow in these stretches, users are facing serious difficulties for movement.

While movements on highways have been difficult due to poor road condition, district authorities are not taking up the issue with NHAI contractors, who are assigned with the project work.

Several peoples’ representatives have flagged concern over the matter as National Highways has turned ‘death traps’ at various stretches. Odisha is considered as one of the worst accident-prone zone, where death rate on roads is high.

Against this backdrop, Odisha Government has  requested Union Minister Finance, Nirmala Sitharaman to allocate adequate funds in Annual Budget for 2021-22, so that State will get required amount of funds for repair and maintenance of 9493 KM long National Highways running through it, pointed out a senior official.