Government to consider tolling State highways

Such is the fate of our State highways. Of the 20,769 km of State highways, 14,305 km is replete with potholes as per the admission of the PWD Minister C M Udasi himself.

He was, however, quick to add that 13,669 km of roads have been made ‘pothole free and good for vehicular movement’.

The minister was responding to a query raised by Congress MLC R V Venkatesh in the Legislative Council on Tuesday. Udasi gave no indication of when these roads were made pothole free.

Venkatesh who condemned the PWD for doing such a bad job of maintaining roads, suggested to the minister that the department should enter into public-private partnerships and charge nominal toll to maintain the roads that have been laid.

In reply, Udasi said though there was much resistance to this move, the government was giving a serious thought on tolling the State Highways.

For starters, eight major roads will be tolled, he said, adding that both four-lane and two-lane roads will be taken up for tolling in a phased manner.

“The Centre has hiked the fuel prices 12 times in the last one year. If we were to toll the roads, the wear and tear on the roads will be less while the diesel consumption will also come down. Though tolling is a debatable issue, the department is hoping that the government will cooperate on levying toll on all the upgraded State Highways,” added Udasi.

The minister also said that a proposal for upgrading 21 State Highways with a length of 4,031 km into National Highways is pending before the Centre.  After upgradation of these roads by the Centre, the improvement and maintenance will depend upon the availability of grants, he added.

He said 4,133 km of State Highways were being upgraded at a cost of Rs 2,193 crore, while 3,122 km of roads are being asphalted at a cost of Rs 605 crore under the State Highways Development Project. Overall, a Rs 2,797-crore proposal for the development of 7,255 km of State Highways under State Highways Development Project is under consideration.

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