Nagpur: Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has written a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray claiming that local leaders of the ruling Shiv Sena were creating obstructions for several road projects undertaken by his ministry in the state.
If the `harassment’ of contractors and officials by local leaders continued, the Union ministry will have to consider if these projects should continue, he warned in the missive, dated July 25. The letter went viral on social media on Saturday.
A source close to the Union minister confirmed its authenticity. Incidentally, Gadkari was PWD minister in the Shiv Sena-BJP government in Maharashtra in the 1990s. Several projects of four-laning of national highways and bridges are underway in Akola, Nanded, Washim and Osmanabad districts, but public representatives from Thackeray-led Shiv Sena were obstructing these works, the senior BJP leader said.
Contractors and officials are being harassed with “illegal demands” and in some cases work has been stopped by local leaders, he alleged. The four-laning of the 202-km National Highway between Akola and Nanded including the construction of a 12-km bypass from Gedshi to Washim has been stopped by local Shiv Sena leaders, Gadkari claimed.
Work of Malegaon to Risod National Highway has been completed except for a bridge over the Painganga river as local leaders threatened the contractor and stopped the work, he said.
The Pulgaon-Karanja-Malegaon-Mehkar-Sindkhedraja National Highway is in a very bad condition and his ministry had started repair work at the cost of Rs 135 crore, Gadkari said.
“This work is almost complete. I was informed that the Shiv Sainiks had stopped the work in Washim district, particularly that of the road through Seloo Bazar village. When the contractor resumed work as per people’s demand as the road was in dangerous condition, Shiv Sena workers set machinery on fire and terrorized officers, employees and workers.
As a result, the work has stopped again,” the letter alleged. “Therefore, should the National Highway work in Washim district continue? We are seriously considering this….If this continues, our ministry will have to think about sanctioning of works of National Highways in Maharashtra. This will harm Maharashtra and its people,” Gadkari said.