The cash-strapped state government is witnessing a windfall of more than Rs 2,000 crore, after the Centre decided to take over the state highways measuring over 15,000km and maintain them as national highways.
The central government has also increased the allocation to the smaller roads from the Central Road Fund (CRF) worth more than Rs 1,500 crore.
The state has roads measuring about 3.25 lakh km, of which only about 8,000km were notified as national highways and maintained by the central government.
The BJP-led central government decided to take over the state highways of 15,000km in Maharashtra as the national highways, taking the total length to 22,500km.
Also, the state has been allocated the budget of more than Rs 1,500 crore more from the CRF by taking it to Rs 2,600 crore from Rs 600 crore. This has helped the state government to save more than Rs 2,000 crore spent on the repairs and renewals.
“We had the state highway measuring about 50,000km, besides the major district roads and other district roads. The state government spends about Rs2 lakh on the repair of the roads, while renewal of the roads requires Rs30 lakh a km,” said an official from the department.
“The roads are repaired every next year, while the renewal is done after every five to six years. However, because of dearth of funds, we take only 10% of the state roads for repair and renewal,” added the official.
The official said though the Centre has increased its allocation to the states, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari ensured that his home state gets the major share.
Another officer said the central government funds will help them in better maintenance of the roads.
“The funds saved because of the adoption of the state roads will help us in utilising more amount from the state budget on the state highways. The additional allocation from the CRF is meant for the repairs of state and major district roads. This means the additional funds will help us in maintaining them too,” he said.