NELLORE: Apart from letting down Andhra Pradesh in the latest Budget, the Union government had also imposed several conditions on the state to execute 25 road projects under the Sagarmala programme to connect several ports in the state with its hinterland.
The road projects are expected to benefit Visakapatnam, Kakinada, Krishnapatnam ports and proposed port at Vodarevu. The state government has been banking on the Sagarmala initiative to develop the region in view of the proposed industrial clusters, NIMZ, SEZs, Chennai-Bengaluru and Visakapatnam-Chennai industrial corridors in the offing.
However, the conditions imposed by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has dashed nearly all hopes. As per the new conditions, the state government should provide encumbrance free land, bear the entire cost of the land acquisition and utility shifting etc., to enable NHAI to take up the projects.
In addition to this the state government shall also provide all the requisite statuary clearances, forest clearance, CRZ clearance, environmental clearance etc,
NHAI has made it clear that they would develop the road stretches only to provide connectivity to the outer gate point of the ports from the National Highways and no internal roads of the port installations would be constructed under the scheme.
The fund starved state should also bear any expenditure/cost implications arising out of any future requirement to provide flyovers, elevated corridors, interchange or any other structure or facility.
The state governments concerned should prepare estimates, detailed project reports (DPRs) after reviewing the existing DPRs in order to incorporate the provisions for parking bays on such port connectivity roads.
Ministry of Shipping would prioritise the road stretches to be considered under port connectivity depending on their commercial importance as well as readiness of the states’ approved timelines for each action point.
Incidentally the ports in AP have been contributing more than Rs 25,000 crore revenue through customs and GST per annum to the Union government. Officials are surprised with the conditions laid down by NHAI, considering that the Union government itself had come forward to establish road network on their own for connecting the ports to boost the economy.
The Ministry of Ports had asked the port managements to suggest the roads under Sagarmala programme and had handed over the projects to the National Highways Authority for execution long back, a senior official said.
“Sagarmala programme has been devised to improve competitiveness of Indian ports, reduce the cost of imports, make exports viable and bring port based industrialisation. It is unfortunate that the NHAI is burdening the state, which is already in a financial crisis, with so many conditions though the lion’s share of the revenue will be going to the Centre,” a senior official of the Industries Department alleged.
He added that the state government should take up the issue with the Centre and demand for the implementation of the project with Central funds as it would be very difficult for AP to raise the funds at this stage.