Trying to resolve highways issue with UP: Nath

The Centre on Sunday underplayed the row with Uttar Pradesh over construction of highways.

New Delhi: The Centre on Sunday underplayed the row with Uttar Pradesh over construction of highways, saying there was no conflict of interest and the differences are only procedural in nature and would be resolved soon.

"There are procedural issues which we are resolving. Our Secretary had gone there (Lucknow)," Transport Minister Kamal Nath told a news agency when asked about the state government taking up the cudgels against the Road and Highways Ministry
for creating a parallel network of national highways that would impact UP`s toll collections.

As a mark of protest, the Mayawati Government in UP declined to sign a pact with the Centre called "Umbrella State Support Agreement" under which the state is supposed to help acquire land to facilitate central road projects.

The UP government had recently raised issues of "conflict
of interests" before the Planning Commission, saying a
parallel national highway would wean away traffic from state

Countering the allegation of conflict of interest between
the Centre and the state government, Nath said that there was
no such conflict, as the economy was growing fast and faster
road addition, either nationally or locally, would augur well.

Overall production (passenger vehicles, commercial
vehicles, two wheelers and three wheelers) increased from
10.85 million vehicles in 2007-08 to 11.17 million vehicles in

Across all categories, total sale of vehicles increased
to 1,114,157 units in January 2010, against 768,698 units in
the January 2009, according to industry body SIAM.

"I don`t think so (that there is a conflict of interest)
...with the 33 per cent growth in the automobile sector there
is not going to be any constraint on any of the highways,"
Nath said suggesting that a non-issue should not be seen as a

As such, in India, about 65 percent of freight and 80
percent of passenger traffic is carried by the roads.

"What happened is some of the national highways we gave them (UP Govt) to build. Then we said we will build ourselves," Nath said.

The minister was responding to queries on the Uttar Pradesh government taking up the issue of parallel highways with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, amid reports that he asked the Road Ministry to resolve the matter with the state.

UP is among the five states which have not signed the Umbrella Agreement with the States and the federal dispute of this kind could hamper the ambitious growth target set by Nath of rolling down national highways at a rate of 20 km a day.

The Mayawati Government has awarded contracts for some of the expressways, including 165 km Yamuna Expressway linking Agra to Noida.

"Whether it is expressway or any other highway, we have huge capacity requirement," Nath said.

The Road Transport Ministry has plans to build 35,000 km of highways at a cost Rs 2,80,000 crore during the second term of the UPA Government.

At present, India has a national highway network of 70,500 km (or two per cent of total road network) against 1,31,899 km of state highways.


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