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Chandigarh, (Gurpreet) Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday directed the Public Works Department (B&R) to expedite all ongoing works, and to initiate and complete all projects announced in the Budget Session by December 2021, while taking care to prioritise them in view of the financial burden imposed by the Covid crisis.

Reviewing the functioning of the department, the Chief Minister asked the officials to take up on priority all approved and sanctioned works, and to initiate any new works after December. He asked PWD to expedite work on the pre-fab building at Halwara airport to make it operational at the earliest. He directed the department to resolve the dispute with the concessionaire to expedite work on the Dedicated Freight Rail Corridor.

The Chief Minister asked the Finance Department to relax the quarterly relaxations on release of funds for engineering departments so that the works could be completed speedily.

The Chief Minister underscored the need to implement all the commitments made by his government, while directing the PWD officials to ensure proper checks at every stage of the projects to ensure good quality of the works. The department should strictly adhere to the prescribed specifications for ensuring quality construction, maintenance and repair of these projects, he added.

The review was aimed at gauging the progress on the state government’s 5-yearar Work Plan of 2017-22, which was focused on widening of Rural Link Roads, Linking of all district HQs with High-Speed 4/6 lane roads and construction of High-Speed Economic Corridors. It is notable that as against the Rs.386 crore per annum spend by the erstwhile SAD-BJP regime on Plan Roads during its decade long tenure (2007-2017), the current Congress government has spent Rs.488 crore per annum during its four years (2017-21). On Link Roads, the incumbent government has spent Rs.655 crore per annum as compared to Rs.261 crore per annum by the earlier government. On the National Highways, the present government has almost spent 100 percent more (Rs.1434 crore) per annum whereas the previous government spent just Rs.722 crore per annum.

During the virtual meeting, the Chief Minister reviewed the current status of projects, whereby commitments have been given by the department to accomplish these projects by February 28, 2022. These include: construction/upgradation of 21 National Highways with 7 Bridges at a cost of Rs.2900 crore and Plan Roads, including State Highways, Major District Roads & Other District Roads with a length of 3675 Km, repaired at a cost of Rs.2412 crore. Apart from these, Link Roads with a length of almost 4200 Km are being upgraded and widened at an estimated cost of Rs.3600 crore, while 85 Bridges on Link Roads have been completed and 49 Bridges are currently under construction for rural Link Roads. Further, 14 Bridges have been sanctioned on these roads. The total project size is Rs.870 crore, to be completed by February, 2022. As many as 175 buildings of different Administrative departments are also being constructed across the state at a cost of Rs.1862 crore.

Public Works Minister Vijay Inder Singla informed the meeting that for the construction of High-Speed Economic Corridors, the State Government has collaborated with National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to take up the sorks of Expressway, Greenfield Corridors and Bypasses, including: Delhi-Katra Expressway with connectivity to Amritsar (396 Kms), Ludhiana-Rupnagar/Kharar connectivity (113 Km), Ludhiana bypass (75.50 Km), Jalandhar bypass (47.50 Km), Kurali-Chandigarh Road- to IT Chowk, Mohali (30.0 Km), Amritsar-Bathinda-Jamnagar Economic Corridor section Amritsar-Bathinda (155 Km), Ludhiana-Bathinda Economic Corridor (79 Km), Zirakpur-Ambala Expressway with Banur spur (42 Km), Northern bypass Patiala (27 Km) and Mohali-Sirhind connectivity (28 Km).

These projects have been put on a fast-track mode where the alignments have been approved and the Land Acquisition process is on, he said, adding that with the the implementation of these projects, the state would get High Speed Economic Corridors for smooth movement of freight & passenger traffic.

In a presentation, Principal Secretary PWD (B&R) apprised the Chief Minister that the State, under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) - III Project, has got approval for upgradation and widening of 204 Rural Link Roads with a length of 2055 Kms, spread all across 22 districts of the State, at an estimated cost of Rs.1478 crore.

The project would ensure that each such road would provide improved access to an average of 5-7 villages or habitations, which would give people easy access to Educational/Health Institutions, Rural Agricultural Marketing facilities, Warehousing, Banking & Transport facilities in the villages. The works under the PMGSY scheme will begin from this month.May, 2021 itself.

The meeting was also informed that under the mission to have all the District HQs linked with High-Speed 4/6 lane roads, roads have been identified based upon the traffic density and connectivity with major districts across the State. These roads have been scaled up to 4/6 lanes, ensuring smoother hassle-free journeys for the citizens.

The meeting was attended by Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan, Principal Secretary Finance KAP Sinha, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, Principal Secretary Public Works Vikas Partap, besides all Chief Engineers of PWD (B&R).

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