Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar charged Union Minister for Surface Transport Kamal Nath of playing yet another fraud on Goans with regards to the widening of the National Highway and said Goa did not require such a highway and would do well with a slight widening of the existing Highway.
He pointed out that as per official figures, per day on an average only 6,900 passenger car units enter Goa from the other state. “This means the bulk of the traffic on the National Highway is local as the highway in Goa is a connecting road for Goans from two different towns or areas,” he said.
He said that as most Goans prefer to travel with their own vehicles, there is a lot of traffic on the National Highway which is intra-state and not inter-state and alleged that the National Highway Authority of India is eyeing this traffic to make their project economically viable.
“A Goan travelling regularly from Margao to Panjim will have to pay a toll of ` 1,500 every month,” he said while pointing out that no toll is proposed on the 450 kms stretch of the National Highway from Panvel to Goa border in Maharashtra.
He also accused the authorities of not making all the facts public and pooh poohed the claims that the National Highway will be only 35 to 60 mts broad. “Wherever the clove type model is to be set up, the width will be 250 mts in order to provide for changing of lanes to get off the highway,” he said adding that six such clusters are proposed in Goa.
While accepting that the Highway needs to be widened, he however said that it should be done in the interest of Goa and Goans and not anybody else. “Minor widening, reducing the width of median and providing bypasses at a few places, can suffice for Goa,” he said while implying that the State leaders have failed to impress upon the NHAI this aspect.
He also revealed that during his tenure as Chief Minister, two consultants appointed by him had recommended against widening the Highway as per the standards set up by the NHAI.
He alleged that vested interest of local politicians and Central ministers by way of either land holdings along the route or proximity to contractors likely to bag the contracts, is pushing the widening of the highway in Goa, which he reiterated was not in the interest of Goa or Goans.
Replying to a question, he said that there are various options that can be considered over which, he said, a debate was required.