The BJP led government at the centre has approved three new national highways for Himachal Pradesh, though the state's proposal to revive the old Hindustan Tibet Road, once a vital link to the Chinese border, could not go through. Central health minister Jagat Parkash Nadda reviewed the status of national highways and central road funds with Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh in the state capital on Friday.
"This meeting with the state government was to develop a concept of 'team India' to strengthen the country's federal structure. Such meetings will continue in the days to come to coordinate with state governments to move forward as partners for Narendra Modi's development concept of 'team India'," Nadda told reporters after the meeting
The minister announced three new national highways for the state, including stretches of state highways - the 80 km Theog-Hatkoti, 60 km Una-Basoli-Badsar -Salooni Bhot and 75 km Kumarhatti-Sarah-Banethi-Nahan roads. The deplorable condition of the Theogh Hatkoti highway had been a cause of concern ever since work to widening the road initiated seven years ago had made its condition deplorable. The road is a lifeline for the state's apple growing areas. The former horticulture minister had also submitted a memorandum to Nadda for upgrading the road to a national highway.
The surface transport ministry released `3,800 crore for four laning the Shimla-Kalka highway. Nadda also announced `1,818 crore had been released for four laning the Kiratpur Nehar chowk road stretch, while `4,400 crore would be spend on two laning the stretch of road connecting Nerchowk to Manali. Expressing concern over the condition of the Nalagarh-Swarghat road, he stated `39.5 crore would be spent on improving the potholed road.
During the meeting the state government also raised the issue of rebuilding the old Hindustan Tibet road. "The Himachal government has asked the central government to accord special importance to hilly areas and to upgrade national highways in all districts of the state, give more powers to provincial government in environment clearances, to provide separate maintenance fund for roads according to the seasons of winter and rainy seasons," he said, adding all issues raised by the government would be considered.
Anti-smoking projects to be launched in schools
Central health minister Jagat Parkash Nadda said his ministry would initiate projects in schools to reduce smoking. "The ministry is undertaking many other projects in school education like how we can catch them young and how tobacco use can be minimized. We have asked for suggestions from anti-tobacco activists. I'd like to make it very clear the health ministry is seriously working on ensuring tobacco use is reduced. Pictorial warning on cigarette packs is one area on which the ministry is consistent and serious. The matter has gone to the subordinate legislative committee of Parliament and they are deliberating on it. However, they've requested more time because they have received representations," he said.