New Delhi: Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who rode back to power for the second time for his good work including better roads, now wants to ensure that at least all state highways and major district roads are maintained. So, starting next week, the Janata Dal (United) government will introduce “road ambulances” to fix potholes and repair damaged portions quickly before the next Lok Sabha election.
Bihar will be the first state to roll out these vehicles as a part of its comprehensive project to maintain the entire network of 9,000 km plus state highways and major district roads. It has created independent projects covering a cluster of roads totaling 100 kms, which will be awarded to private contractors to maintain them for five years.
“We are going to spend about Rs 2,520 crore on this. Our annual investment will decrease substantially while in the first year the outgo will be Rs 750 crore,” state’s road construction secretary Pratyay Amrit told TOI on the sidelines of a JICA event.
Andhra Pradesh and Punjab have only a few stretches under a similar scheme for road development and maintenance. Amrit said that the ambulances with all necessary equipment and materials to carry out immediate will also be tracked as these will have GPS gadgets fitted in the vehicles. There will be a centralized control room in Patna to monitor.
He added that entire fleet of 76 road ambulances will be rolled out by March end. “These will also have stretchers so that accident victims can also be transported to any nearby hospital,” the officer said. These ambulances will cost about Rs 26 lakh.
However, over 1,000 km dilapidated National Highway stretches in the state are haunting the Nitish government. These include the crucial corridors such as Chhapra-Gopalganj, UP Border-Dumariya Ghat, Pipra Kothi-Raxaul, Hazipur-Chhapra, Buxar-Patna.
Though these stretches were awarded by NHAI to private contractors, none is maintaining them since the developers are yet to start work. “We have written to NHAI, but nothing has happened as they say that the projects are struck. It will be better if they cancel the contracts and maintain these roads,” said a Bihar government official.