NEW DELHI, Oct 24 - In a major boost to Assam, the Union Ministry of Highways and Road Transport on Monday cleared surface transport projects worth over Rs 1 lakh crore, covering National Highways, road overbridges and waterways.
A high-level meeting, which lasted over two hours at the Transport Bhavan here between the Ministry and State government, cleared several projects that have been hanging fire, besides sanctioning new projects.
The meeting, chaired by Union Minister for National Highways and Road Transport Nitin Gadkari, was attended by Union Minister of State for Waterways Sanjeev Kumar Baliyan, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, State Industry and Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, State PWD Minister Parimal Suklabaidya and State Water Resources Minister Keshab Mahanta, besides top officials of both the governments.
Later, Patowary told newsmen that the total cost of the projects that were sanctioned today would be over Rs 1 lakh crore. He said a decision was taken to construct 1,200 km of new National Highways in Assam. Currently, the State has 2,100 km of National Highways.
On both the banks of the Brahmaputra, two expressways would also be constructed covering 891 km on each side. The Majuli island would be encircled by the highway like a ring road.
The Central Road Fund has also been hiked from Rs 450 crore to Rs 800 crore.
The Centre also sanctioned eight flyovers on the National Highways to ease traffic bottlenecks, said Patowary.
The meeting decided to resume dredging in the Brahmaputra from Sadiya to Dhubri linking Bangladesh and West Bengal to ensure movement of cargo traffic.
The National Waterway Terminal in the Barak Valley and a new bridge over the Brahmaputra at Saraighat would be inaugurated by Gadkari on January 1. On that day, two high-speed passenger ferries, called RORO ferry, would also be introduced. The routes of the two ferries would be decided later.
The State government would also seek the help of World Bank to revive and develop the ailing Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC).
In every district of the State, driving schools would be set up, he added.
Talking to newsmen, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the meeting discussed about the State�s roads, bridges, highways and dredging. The discussion was successful and several important decisions were taken, he said adding that Gadkari has given top priority to Assam.