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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

Forest dept's gives nod to four-laning proposal

Jatinder Kohli, Hindustan Times  JALANDHAR, October 18, 2013
First Published: 22:29 IST(18/10/2013) | Last Updated: 22:31 IST(18/10/2013)

The central forest advisory committee has finally approved the Punjab government's proposal of four laning the 82-km road connecting Ropar, Nawanshahr and Phagwara cities of the state.

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Members of the advisory committee of the public works department (PWD) received a go-ahead for the project after meeting the central forest ministry officials in New Delhi on Thursday.

A senior official of the department said as the basic hurdle in the execution of the project had been removed, the ministry would give a no-objection certificate (NOC) within 20 days.

He said NOCs from the state departments of irrigation, agriculture and power had already been received.

He said tenders for the project had already been floated and the process would be completed in December. He said the construction, to be based on design, finance, build, operate and transfer, would be completed by October 2016.

The official said the government wanted to give the project to a single firm instead of many to avoid any delay.

He said that on Wednesday, senior officials of the PWD held a meeting with GMR Group, a Bangalore-based infrastructural company, and showed it a detailed-project report, asking it to invest in the project.

He said before GMR, the project was presented to Tata Group.

Confirming the central forest advisory committee's nod for the project, Nawanshahr PWD's executive engineer Balwinder Singh said the report would soon be formally submitted to the ministry, which would give an NOC within 20 days.

As per records collected from forest officials, more than 23,000 trees would be uprooted to make way for the proposed 82-km four-lane road, the dream project of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.

Badal had decided to develop the road connecting Ropar, Balachaur, Nawanshahr and Phagwara into an express highway of four lanes to make commuting easier from Doaba region to Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport in SAS Nagar.

Moreover, widening of the Jalandhar-Chandigarh highway, an ambitious project of the state government, would wipe out 116 hectares of forests in the name of development. The forest divisions of Garhshankar and Jalandhar have mentioned it in a report submitted to the state government and the PWD, the project's executing agency.

FAST FACTS
Ropar-Nawanshahr-Phagwara road
Two lane at present, the 82-km road will be divided into four lanes.
Approximate expenditure: `1,500 crore
To be started in: January 2014
To be completed in: December 2016

Nearly 800 shopkeepers of Nawanshahr district had protested against the project in the past for fear of losing their livelihood. They had demanded construction of a bypass road to solve the problem of traffic chaos instead of four laning.

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