In a big boost to infrastructure development, the Centre has stamped its nod for widening the existing four-lane Vijayawada-Machilipatnam National Highway (NH-65) to six-lane.
The NHAI is preparing a detailed project report (DPR) to finalise the project cost. The Centre is keen to launch the works within four months. The six-lane NH will be ready by the time the port is completed in Machilipatnam.
NHAI had selected KDM Infra to prepare the DPR to design the 67-km-long highway project with a task to ready the report within three months. Meanwhile, NHAI submitted its preliminary report on the need to upgrade the existing NH to six-lane and got it approved by the ministry.
The ministry directed the NHAI to get the DPR ready as soon as possible so that it would include the project in the next phase of NH approvals.
Sources said that Union minister for road transport Nitin Gadkari is very keen to push through the six-lane highway for Machilipatnam in view of the upcoming port in the coastal city. Machilipatnam MP V Balasoury recently met the minister during the ongoing Parliament session and urged him to advice the NHAI to expedite the DPR work.
Responding to the MP’s request, Gadkari told him that they would launch the works most probably in December. He said that the Centre is ready to extend its support to the state government with regard to the development of National Highways but wanted the state government to reciprocate with urgency.
The NHAI authorities are apprehensive about land acquisition for the six-lane project keeping in view of the troubles they faced in the past while developing the NH into four-lane.
Although it is a highway (part of Pune-Hyderabad-Vijayawada-Machilipatnam NH), the stretch between Vijayawada and Machilipatnam remained two-lane for several decades.
NHAI struggled for several years to clear legal hurdles to make it four-lane a few years ago.
Sources said NHAI is gearing up to acquire land which could be sufficient to make it eight-lane in future and keep land bank ready. Though it is expected to cost a little more, the NHAI wanted to avoid litigations and delay in future.
“We are planning to acquire land that is sufficient for widening the NH into 8-lane in future though we are going for six-lane now. Since Machilipatnam port is expected to get huge traffic soon after its completion, we do not want to take chances,” said a senior NHAI official. The railway ministry has sanctioned new freight loading station at the port.