TN Has Put Best Foot Forward To Support NHAI Projects, Says CM, Suggests Corrective Measures

Project specific issues were discussed with district collectors and line Departments along with NHAI officials to solve the issues.

The Chief Minister addressed a letter to Union Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Expressing "surprise" over Union Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari's remarks on implementation of NHAI projects in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister M K Stalin on Monday said his government has put the best foot forward to support the authority's projects in the state and these helped resolve many long-pending issues.

The government gave "very high importance" to NHAI projects, as it fully realised the significance of road connectivity for an industrialised state like Tamil Nadu, he said. "Hence I have given specific instructions to all departments to give top priority to NHAI projects," the Chief Minister said in a letter addressed to the Union Minister.

"Many current issues causing project delays are legacy issues of the past decade and my teams of officers under the Chief Secretary are putting their best efforts to sort them out at the earliest," he said in the letter, a copy of which was made available to the media here. Taking exception to Gadkari's remarks in the media on issues faced by NHAI projects in Tamil Nadu, Stalin said "you had highlighted various issues and sought the cooperation of the state government in overcoming them."

On an earlier occasion too, Gadkari had written to him highlighting such issues and he had replied in detail the various steps his government undertook, he pointed out. The state Public Works Minister (E V Velu) had conducted four meetings with all stakeholder departments to resolve various issues in NHAI projects, as a follow up to his review meetings. Chief Secretary and Principal Secretary, Highways and Minor Ports Department conducted thirteen different meetings and there was a high-level meeting for NHAI projects every fortnight during the last six months, he explained.

Apart from briefing the Union Minister on October 12, 2021 about action being taken for speedy implementation of NHAI projects in Tamil Nadu, the Public Works Minister convened a joint meeting on December 16, 2021, in which the General Manager of NHAI from New Delhi also participated.

"All the issues and action taken on them were discussed during this full day meeting and it was noted that about 80 percent of the NHAI issues have been resolved," Stalin said. Specific issues (like Vikaravandi – Kumbakonam – Thanjavur Road and Melur – Karaikudi Road) were resolved following the intervention of the PWD Minister and Chief Secretary and this could be verified with the NHAI team in Tamil Nadu. "From this, it would be clear that the State Government has put its best foot forward to support NHAI projects in Tamil Nadu and these have helped to resolve many long pending issues," he said.

"Considering the efforts taken by the state government and the resultant progress, your statement made at event has been a bit surprising to me," Stalin said and assured his government's "full cooperation" to NHAI to expedite all the works. He suggested certain corrective measures like streamlining the system of approval of land valuation for land acquisition under the National Highways Act, to avoid delay in implementing projects and sought necessary action at the Union Minister's end in this regard.

"Similarly, in many cases applications for borrow earth permission are being given without requisite documents. In some instances, the applications have been given for sites which are not feasible due to stagnation of water in ponds / tanks or falling in eco sensitive zones. Such applications need to be scrutinised before submission," the Chief Minister suggested. 

With inputs from PTI.