More than four years after the approval from the Union Government, the four-laning of the hazardous Zirakpur-Bathinda national highway 64 is still hanging fire.
Amidst political pressure ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha poll, the union government is planning to float fresh tenders for this project, which was supposed to be completed in February 2012.
Moreover, the ministry of surface transport is planning to complete the Bathinda-Patiala stretch under the engineering- procurement-construction (EPC) mode instead of the BoT basis.
The tree felling process is in its last phase for the 215 km-long highway which connects Zirakpur with Bathinda via Banur, Patiala, Bhawanigarh- Sangrur, Dhanula, Tapa and Rampura Phul.
Talking to the Hindustan Times, Sangrur MP Vijay Inder Singla, who is striving to get the work started on this project before the declaration of poll, said, "I have taken up this long pending demand with the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has directed the ministry of surface transport to get the project completed soon"
However, politics may also overshadow this much needed projected as Singla, wants that the half of the project (Bathinda-Sangrur-Patiala ) should be completed on EPC mode, under which the union government will bear all the cost of the project. This will also help people of his Sangrur parliamentary constituency get rid of proposed toll plazas.
"As the construction companies were not showing their interest in this project on BoT basis, last week I requested union Road Transport and Highways Minister to get the project completed on EPC mode. Now the matter is pending with the inter-ministerial group (IMG) for the approval. I am hopeful that the IMG will approve it soon"
However, while the MP is struggling to get the 146 km Bathinda- Patiala stretch to be built on EPC mode, Punjab PWD minister Sharanjit Singh Dhillon said that whole project would be completed on BoT basis.
"Entire project would be completed on BoT basis," he said adding, "The work of inviting fresh tenders for this project is under process. As the tree felling process is in the last phase, we are hopeful that construction companies will now show their interest in this project"
When asked about the delay in the acquisition of land in the Sangrur region, he said, "All the hurdles have already been cleared. The state government is in touch with the centre and they have assured us that the tenders will be invited again soon"
The project was allocated to two companies by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways on March 12 last year. One company was to undertake the four-laning work from Zirakpur to Patiala and the other from Patiala to Bathinda. But the companies namely Rohan Rajdeep and the IVCRL, could not start work in the given time and the Union Government, on the recommendation of the state government terminated the contracts.
However, the project was lying in the cold storage for long, but coming poll may help to complete this project, which is termed as Malwa's lifeline. Lok Sabha aspirants of the Congress and ruling SAD are striving hard to get the work started before the announcements of the polls.