Opp targets govt over road quality, toll transparency

THE OPPOSITION took on the government over accidents on highways, transparency in toll collection and quality of the construction in Lok Sabha on Monday.

Taking part in the discussion on the Demand for Grants of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said every hour there are 35 accidents on highways and that the government should construct trauma centres along the highways. “If you would not construct trauma centres, you would not be able to save lives of accident victims,” he said, adding that inadequate maintenance affects the country’s GDP also.

Amid increasing aggression of China in Arunachal Pradesh, there is a need for improving road infrastructure in the north-eastern states, he said, adding that to meet the construction target of 25,000 km of NHs in the next fiscal year, construction pace has to be increased to 68 km per day, otherwise “you would not” be able to meet this humongous target.

He said along with increasing pace of construction of new highways, the ministry should focus on the quality of roads also. “After the NDA government come to power in 2014, the ministry approved approximately 72,000 km of state roads to be declared as national highways….doodh me toh paani zarur milaya hua hai (there is definitely water mixed in milk).”

Several Opposition leaders, however, also praised the work of Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari while also highlighting concerns such as quality of roads, their maintenance and alleged lack of transparency in toll collection.

Participating in the discussion, most MPs, both from Opposition and treasury benches, began their address by hailing the work done by Gadkari in the road transport sector and lauded his hands-on approach. BJP MP from Arunachal Pradesh Tapir Gao hailed road construction under the Modi government and said top car companies, including Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes and Lamborghini, now participate in car rallies because of good roads in the state.

CPI(M) MP from Kerala A M Ariff thanked Gadkari for the development of national highways in Kerala in a time-bound manner but added: “I challenge the government to come up with a white paper on the toll collected so far as part of various projects in the country to bring the facts before the people.”

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