New Delhi, July 3: The UPA government admitted before the Supreme Court that the NDA regime, in five years, constructed nearly half the total length of national highways laid during the last 32 years, the Kashmir Monitor repoerted.
This admissioin by the UPA puts the NDA and the BJP in a most favourable position. Observers feel that the BJP must take advantage of this opportuity to its fullest possibile limit and take this up to the masses.
In an interesting affidavit filed before the apex court, the Centre said the length of national highways in the country was 29,023 km in 1980, which expanded to 76,818 km by the end of 2012.
This means 47,795 km of national highways was added by successive governments in 32 years.
However, the affidavit revealed that during 1997-2002 (ninth five-year plan), when the NDA was in power, 23,814 km of national highways was added to the existing NH network, or nearly 50% of the total length of national highways constructed in three decades.
This remains the largest construction of national highways during any five-year period since independence.
In fact, during the nearly 10-year rule of the UPA government, the total length of national highways laid was much less - nearly 16,000 km, the affidavit said.
During 2012-2017, nearly 3,000 km of additional national highways was proposed to be built but the government decided to de-notify 530 km of national highways in Madhya Pradesh and 627 km in Gujarat.
The affidavit came on a PIL filed by Sanjay Kulshresta, who sought several directions from the apex court to make highways safe for motorists including making available expeditious medical help to accident victims.
India has a total road network of 46.90 lakh km with a road density of 1.43 km per square km. While national highways account for 79,116 km, state highways make up 1,55,716 km and the remaining 44.55 lakh km is classified as 'other roads'.
"National highways comprise only 1.7% of total road network but carry about 40% of road traffic," the Centre said.
The petitioner had prayed for modernization of road infrastructure and traffic reforms to counter congestion. He had said rapid rise in personal diesel and petrol vehicles had nullified the effect of the Supreme Court directed conversion of all public transport in the city into CNG fuel.
The petitioner had also sought a direction to the government to phase out very old vehicles, which were not road worthy and emitted noxious air. But the Centre said though it was empowered to fix age for phasing out of vehicles, it had not taken measures under the legislation.
"Even though the central government is empowered to fix age limit of vehicles under Section 59 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, no policy decision has been taken (in this regard) by the central government," it said.
It said every vehicle owner has to prove road worthiness at the time of renewal of registration certificate from authorized testing centres.
"Only those vehicles can ply on Indian roads as long as they satisfy the prescribed norms and standards mentioned in the Central Motor Vehicle Rules," the affidavit said.