Infra growth may pave way for poll edge in Karnataka and Odisha
Poll-bound states like Karnataka and Odisha are all set to see a major infrastructure boom. The union transport ministry will be taking up more than a hundred highway projects in these states ahead of the assembly elections.
While Karnataka is scheduled to go to polls this year; assembly elections in Odisha will be held in 2019 along with the General Elections.
Sources said, the government wants to push development as the major poll plank and expansion of road and rail connectivity is the most effective tool.
At the same time, the Narendra Modi government has rolled out highway projects worth over Rs 21,000 crore in the states of Kerala and West Bengal where the BJP is desperately trying to make inroads. The NHAI is taking up 17 major road projects in Kerala, the last left bastion and 54 projects in West Bengal.
Recently, union transport minister Nitin Gadkari had announced that the Narendra Modi government would invest Rs 1.44 lakh crore in the next two years to improve the highway network in Karnataka.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has agreed to implement over 150 works to upgrade 6,800 km of roads to the standard of National Highways.
Gadkari assured that it would include Satellite Town Ring Road (STRR), which is better known as Bangalore Ring Road. Similarly in the Union Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced a ring railway for Bengaluru which is facing severe congestion.
According to the transport ministry, nearly 710 km of highways will be constructed in Odisha at the estimated cost of Rs 2,700 crore.
Recently, the Modi government had rolled out a major rail project in Malkangiri area of Odisha, the first in 70 years of Independence. This is the first rail project in Malkangiri which is the worst Maoist-affected area in the state.
The project, likely to be completed by 2021-22, will cover Odisha's Koraput and Malkangiri districts.
Officials said massive expansion of road projects in Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan area also underway. These states are also going to polls by this year end and the BJP is facing anti-incumbency.
"As many as 1,470 sanctioned projects amounting to Rs 4.33 lakh crore are under construction. This will create a vast road network of 44,108 km across the country. This includes 71 road projects amounting Rs 21,042 crore in the states of Kerala and West Bengal," said a senior transport ministry official.
Officials said the government has already taken up large-scale construction of roads in Maoist-affected areas to counter red terror. The road transport and highway ministry has constructed nearly 5,000 km of roads in Maoist hit states such as Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Maximum road projects have been taken up in Chhattisgarh where Sukma, Dantewada and Jagdalpur have seen brutal Maoist attacks in recent years. A transport ministry official said 209 road projects of 5,422-km length have been sanctioned by the Centre at a cost of Rs 8,585 crore in these areas.