Patna: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday laughed away the challenge by Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari for a televised debate over Rs 1.25 lakh crore special package announced for the state and asked him to first answer questions related to his department which forms a bulk of the package.
"Gadkari has a habit of punching above his weight. Before debating the whole package, he should first answer questions relating to his dept," Kumar said in a post on the micro-blogging site Twitter.
Gadkari was fielded by the BJP to counter Kumar's dismissal of Rs 1.25 lakh crore sop as a "repackaging" of old schemes.
Transport ministry has the biggest share, with work worth more than Rs 56,000 crore set to be executed by it in the special package announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 18 at Arrah.
Kumar had said 41 NH projects had been made part of the special package at an estimated cost of Rs 54,713 crore.
"Out of this, Rs 47,553 crore are previously sanctioned cost and only Rs 7,160 crore are new and incremental budgetary allocation," he had said while trashing the special package.
Gadkari had thrown a challenge to Kumar for a televised debate for every project under the special package and had asserted yesterday that the Centre had prepared all the details under the scheme.
In a 'Fact Sheet' presented by the chief minister before mediapersons yesterday, detail had been given about the status of National Highways projects in the state.
The 'Fact Sheet' on special package highlighted detailed analysis of several NH projects in the state giving total cost of project, sanctioned cost with a remark.
It talked about Biharsharif-Barbigha-Mokama section of NH-82, NHDP phase-IV. The total cost of the 2012 project was stated as Rs 399.54 crore with the entire money being approved.
The four-laning of Patna-Koilwar section of NH-30 of 2007 which was worth Rs 492 crore and the entire cost was sanctioned.
It also highlighted pre-approved projects like 4-laning of Koilawar-Bhojpur section of NH-30 and NH-84, 4-laning of Bakhtiyarpur-Mokama section of NH-31 and new 4-laned bridge across river Ganga at Mokama on NH-31 worth Rs 520 crore among others, to prove that these were "repackaged".
It also highlighted bridge over the river Sone connecting Panduka (Nauhata) on NH-2C in Bihar and Shrinagar in Garhwa district of Jharkhand whose project cost was Rs 2000 crore. "But, no groundwork has taken place...Not intimated to the state Road Construction Department yet," it said.
Another potential new project was new NH connecting Buxar on NH-84 Chausa-Ramgarh-Mohania on NH-2 of Rs 960 crore on which the 'Fact Sheet' remarked, "No groundwork has taken place and the new project was not yet declared as NH".