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10 highways, 3,000 km: Maharashtra’s grand plan to connect almost every district in next 5 yrs

Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation pegs total investment at Rs 3 lakh crore. Longest among these projects is Nagpur-Goa highway, or Shaktipeeth expressway.

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Mumbai: The Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government is working on an ambitious plan of building a highway network of nearly 3,000 km with the hope of connecting a majority of the 36 districts in the state.

Other than the partially opened 701-km Nagpur-Mumbai expressway, touted to be India’s longest and called the ‘Samruddhi Mahamarg’ (prosperity corridor), about 10 other short and long highway projects are at various stages in the pipeline. 

The Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), a portfolio that Shinde has kept with himself, is hoping to complete this road network in the next five years. 

MSRDC managing director Radheshyam Mopalwar expects the entire highway network to be complete in the next five years and estimates a total investment of Rs 3 lakh crore.

“Our aim is to connect almost every district of Maharashtra with the road network. In the next five years, there will be a different Maharashtra altogether,” he told ThePrint. “Once the network is built, the possibilities are endless. There can be new industrial nodes, different hubs, smart cities, and so on. It will acquire a life of its own.”

Mopalwar is also director general of the war room on infrastructure projects in the chief minister’s office. 

Also Read: Modi govt moves with Arunachal Frontier Highway, among India’s ‘toughest’ projects yet, China in mind

The Shaktipeeth expressway

The longest and the most ambitious among all these projects that the MSRDC is taking up is a Nagpur-Goa highway, which it plans to popularise as ‘Shaktipeeth (seat of power) expressway.’

At about 760 km, the Shaktipeeth expressway will be even longer than the Nagpur-Mumbai expressway, which is touted to be among India’s longest.

In October, the MSRDC called for bids to pick a consultant to conduct a feasibility study for the project and to prepare a detailed project report (DPR). MSRDC officials hope to have a consultant on board by the end of December, according to information from the MSRDC.

The Shaktipeeth expressway will pass through 11 districts, connecting parts of Vidarbha, Marathwada, and Konkan with each other. The districts it will connect include Wardha, Yavatmal, Hingoli, Nanded, Parbhani, Latur, Beed, Osmanabad, Solapur, Kolhapur, and Sindhudurg, which is at the Maharashtra-Goa border. 

It will also connect many of Maharashtra’s religious and spiritual centres such as Sevagram, Karanja Lad, Mahur, Aundha Nagnath, Nanded’s Takhat Sachkand Gurdwara, Parli-Vaijnath, Ambajogai, Tuljapur, Pandharpur, and Kunkeshwar, among others.

The expressway will technically begin at Pavnar in the Wardha district and end at Patradevi on the Maharashtra-Goa state border. 

“The Nagpur-Mumbai expressway will provide connectivity from Nagpur to Pavnar in Wardha, after which those wishing to travel towards Konkan can take the Shaktipeeth highway,” an MSRDC official said. 

The Nagpur-Mumbai expressway covers districts such as Nagpur, Wardha, Buldhana, Jalna, Aurangabad, Nashik, Ahmednagar, and Thane.

The Shaktipeeth expressway will mostly cover those parts of Vidarbha, Marathwada, and Western Maharashtra that the Nagpur-Mumbai highway does not touch.

The highway network

Graphic: Soham Sen | ThePrint
Graphic: Soham Sen | ThePrint

Other than the Nagpur-Goa expressway, the MSRDC is working on projects such as Jalna-Nanded and Jalna-Nashik connectors to the Nagpur-Mumbai expressway, Nagpur-Gondia, Gondia-Gadchiroli, and Gadchiroli-Nagpur highways to boost connectivity in Vidarbha region.

MSRDC officials said while the Jalna-Nanded and Jalna-Nashik highways are very close to starting actual construction, for the other projects, the corporation aims to complete all pre-tender activities by October 2023. Similarly, the MSRDC also hopes to complete pre-tender activities for an ambitious Mumbai-Goa Konkan expressway around that time.

The Konkan expressway will connect Mumbai with Sindhudurg and meet the Nagpur-Goa highway at Patradevi, they said.

The corporation is also working on a multi-modal corridor between Virar, a satellite town of Mumbai, and Alibaug, and a ring road around Pune, for which DPRs have been prepared. It is also in the process of augmenting the capacity of the existing Mumbai-Pune expressway and has called for bids to conduct a feasibility study for a Pune-Nashik industrial corridor.

“We will get transaction advisors on board to suggest the best financial implementational model for each of these projects,” Mopalwar said.

He added that a few other highway projects that the Centre is implementing — the Surat-Chennai expressway, Aurangabad-Pune, and Pune-Bangalore highways — will also boost connectivity within certain districts of Maharashtra.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

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