It's a literal road show in UP, ahead of the next year's assembly elections.
The road transport and highways ministry has identified 911 km stretch of state roads across UP, running through over half-a-dozen Lok Sabha constituencies with sitting Congress MPs including that of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, to be declared as national highway (NH).
The road ministry's bounty does not end here.
The ministry, recently, also sanctioned Rs 500 crore to Uttar Pradesh under the Central Road Fund, which is to be used solely for development and maintenance of state roads.The proposal to declare state roads to NHs, sources said, was being pushed by minister of state for road transport Jitin Prasada, who also happens to be an MP from UP's Dhaurahra constituency.
Some stretches of the identified highway also runs through this area. "The road ministry is in the process of finalizing the proposal," an official said.
Once a road is declared as an NH, the resources for its upkeep shifts to the Centre.
"A reason for the poor maintenance of many of the state highways is the fact that many states do not have adequate funds to spend on the highway's upkeep.
With Centre spending the resource, the NH will be better maintained," said the official. The move comes close on the heels of the Rural Development Ministry's decision to sanction over 500 rural road projects in UP, many of which also happen to pass through constituencies of sitting Congress MPs.
A senior road ministry official said that the 911 km stretch is part of 10,000 km roads that has been identified across to be upgraded to NHs in the 12th Plan. Besides SP MP from Fatehpur Rakesh Sachan and BJP MP Varun Gandhi, the 911 km stretch that has been identified also passes through assembly constituencies held by six BSP and four SP MLAs.
Of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP, Congress has 22 seats.