After seven years, an audit of the Bharatmala Pariyojana revealed that expansion work on three major high-priority highways is still pending which connect Chennai with other Tamil Nadu districts and Karnataka.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTh) launched the 'Bharatmala Pariyojana' to address excessive delays in highway development. This program aims to develop key economic highway corridors in the country.
The pending projects include the eight-lane expansion of the Chennai- Madurai highway (93 km), Chennai-Bengaluru Highway (158 km), and the new Chennai-Salem highway (277 km).
The recent Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report stated that no specific timelines were set for awarding or completing projects, rendering the priorities meaningless.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has not yet responded to the CAG report. These highways witness a daily traffic volume of over 50,000 vehicles. Experts attribute the delays to court cases related to land acquisition, the tender process, and a lack of coordination between the state and Union governments.
As per the Economic Times report, the delay in road repairs by NHAI has not only exacerbated traffic congestion but also compromised the safety of commuters.
A recent report by MoRTH reveals that nearly one-third of road accidents in Tamil Nadu occur on NHAI stretches.
Despite this alarming statistic, the NHAI has been slow in addressing accident-prone areas, as highlighted in a report by the CAG released last week.
Between 2011 and 2018, the central agency identified approximately 263 accident black spots (locations with five or more accidents in a year) on national highway stretches in and around Chennai.
However, only nine of these black spots have been permanently rectified. NHAI Chennai officials claim that short-term measures have been implemented at 74 spots, with the remaining work set to be completed within a year.
Transportation plays a crucial role in socio-economic development, according to K P Subramanian, a retired professor of Transportation Engineering and Urban Planning at Anna University. He emphasises that delaying road expansion projects will have a negative impact on the state's economic growth and contribute to inflation.
In summary, the delay in road expansion and repairs has far-reaching consequences for Tamil Nadu's economic growth, inflation rates, and the safety of commuters. It is crucial for NHAI to prioritise and expedite the rectification of accident black spots to reduce the alarming number of road accidents in the state.
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