By Our Staff Reporter
Guwahati, January 27: With the Centre tightening its purse strings on the funds for maintence of tiol highways, the State government’s PWD department has been left befuddled.
Officials said the Centre has this fiscal, sanctioned less than 50 per cent funds required for maintence works.
There are over 3,000 kms of tiol highways in the State. Around Rs 120 crores are required for their maintence annually, the officials said.
“This year, we have received only around Rs 45 crores. With that amount, it is not possible to undertake the works completely. We will now have to do the work in patches, on basis of priority,” the officials said.
It is learnt that the State government was earlier able to get the requisite funds from the previous UPA government at the Centre. “The Congress was then in power – both at the State and at the Centre. So it was not difficult to get funds. Now under Modi, the Central government has been frugal while releasing funds in certain sectors,” sources said.
Interestingly, the network of State highways and other roads in the State is much longer than the tiol highways in the State. Their maintence require over Rs 140 crores annually and the State government is responsible for their maintence. However, officials admitted that only Rs 30/40 crores is being released by the State government for their maintence every year.
“This is the reason why most of the State highways and other roads are not well–maintained,” the officials said “The State has failed to do its bit. So there is no point in blaming the Centre on this front,” they added.
It is learnt that the Central government has not approved proposals for new road projects sent by the State government.
Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari is scheduled to visit the State next month. During his visit, Gadkari is expected to review the status of highway projects and fund utilization in the State.
Earlier, the Centre had slashed the MGNREGA funds to the State by fifty per cent. If the State government does not gear up, the Centre may do the same with highway projects as well.