No feasibility study done to build express highway in Assam: CM Sarma


Guwahati:  Nearly four-and-half years after the Centre announced a Rs 40,000-crore express highway along the Brahmaputra river in Assam, state Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday said no feasibility study has been carried out so far on the project.

The state is now going to construct roads on the embankments and Rs 183 crore was sanctioned to create the first such road from Jonai to Majuli, Sarma told reporters after a Cabinet meeting here.

“The express highway was a concept and no study was carried out to see if it can be implemented. We have plans to make roads on the embankments. (But) this will not be a highway,” he said.

The proposed embankment-cum-road project will be more of a flood control measure, Sarma said.

In April 2017, Union Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had announced that the government would develop the first express highway of the North-eastern region along the Brahmaputra, entailing an investment of Rs 40,000 crore over the years.

With experts raising doubts over the project, which was highlighted by the previous chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, never took off.

Talking about the current embankment-cum-road projects, Sarma said: “The PWD specifications are more stringent than those related to flood control. When a road is constructed on an embankment, it will be very strong.”

After construction of the embankments, the PWD will make the roads. So, two departments will work and it will be stronger than ordinary embankments, which are frequently breached during flood.

“But an express highway is not possible (on the embankment-cum-road projects) because you will not get an unobstructed way all along,” Sarma said.

Announcing the first such project, the CM said the Cabinet approved Rs 183 crore to build an embankment-cum-road from Jonai to Majuli.

“The width of the road will be five metres. This project will pass through Jonai, Dhemaji, Dhakuakhana and Majuli constituencies,” he added.

Making the announcement of the express highway at the closing ceremony of the ”Namami Brahmaputra” festival in Guwahati on April 4, 2017, Gadkari had requested the then Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to carry out land acquisition work for the road.

The Union Minister had said that the 1,300-km long express highway would be axis-controlled and vehicles would be able to ply at a very high speed.

In Gadkari”s presence, a tripartite agreement was signed for dredging and construction of the express highway between the Government of Assam, National Highways Authority of India and Inland Waterways of India. PTI