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Road development slows down

Historically, the southern states have been known for the quality of their road network. The programme received a big thrust after the NDA government led by Vajpayee launched the National Highway Development Programme. A simple idea of a cess on petrol and diesel for road development led to a revolutionary change. In just a decade, the quality of national highways recorded a spectacular growth. The policy to provide the states half of the cess collected helped improve the road networks in the states as well. Today, several states have implemented schemes to connect rural areas with quality roads.

The programme made spectacular progress when the four metros and the ports were well connected with the golden quadrilateral road development programme.  However, the programme slowed down under the UPA. From a target of around 20 km a day, the road construction dropped to 3 km a day during UPA I; it has not improved overmuch since. There have been delays in awarding of contracts, as also serious impediments caused by environmental issues. Add to this, the non-cooperation and indifference of the state governments.

The Times of India has been highlighting the near standstill in the national highway development

programme in Tamil Nadu and it mentions corruption as a reason.

Good roads have been a big trigger for economic development. In the long-term interests of the state, the Jayalalithaa government should shortlist a few large civil contractors and entrust them with the task of road building with guaranteed maintenance for at least ten years. With the state enjoying a good reputation for dispersed development spread throughout the state, such a focus will bring about lasting benefits.


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