Central Road Fund should not go to finance ministry: Nitish

PATNA: Chief minister (CM) Nitish Kumar on Friday opposed the Centre's decision to allocate the amount collected under the Central Road Fund (CRF) to ministry of finance instead of Union ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH).
"Amounts under the CRF are collected from the cess on petroleum products. Now, an amount of around Rs 80,000 is collected under the CRF. This fund, collected from the cess on petrol and diesel, are meant for development and maintenance of roads.

It should go directly to the MoRTH. Had Union minister Nitin Gadkari been here today, I would have asked him why this fund was being sent to the ministry of finance," the CM said while addressing the inaugural event of the 80th annual session of the Indian Road Congress (IRC) at the Bapu Sabhagar here.
Gadkari, who was scheduled to attend the event as chief guest, could not make it to the programme. He, however, sent his video message which was broadcast during the programme.
The CM recalled how the CRF was created in 2000 during the regime of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. "Road cess on petrol and diesel was used to finance major road projects.

I was also the minister of MoRTH in the Vajpayee government, albeit for a short period. I am aware of the purpose behind creation of the CRF. Contract for 20 stretches of the golden quadrilateral and east-west corridor projects were awarded for the first time during my tenure," Nitish said.
He told the MORTH officials, especially its special secretary I K Pandey, who was present at the function, to convey his message to Gadkari.
Nitish also raised concern over 'poor maintenance' of national highways (NHs) in Bihar.

He said total length of NHs in Bihar is around 5,000km, which are maintained by the MoRTH.
"Several NHs in the state have potholes. What is the condition of Patna-Gaya road?" he asked.
Deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi highlighted the enhanced budgetary allocation made for road construction sector in the recent years in Bihar. "In 2009-10, budget for road construction in state was just Rs 4,600 crore. However, it increased to Rs 18,000 crore in 2019-20," Modi added.
Others who addressed the IRC session were state's road construction department minister Nand Kishor Yadav, principal secretary of the department Amrit Lal Meena.

IRC president Toli Basar and MoRTH special secretary and director general I K Pandey.
IRC general secretary S K Nirmal said road engineers would try to incorporate the suggestions of Bihar CM in their future plans.
'Corrupt engineers to face music': Chief minister Nitish Kumar on Friday asked road engineers to take responsibility of some engineering work instead of "offloading" all works to contractors.

He also said the engineers indulging in corrupt practices would be sent to jail. "Corruption will not be tolerated by the state government at any cost," Nitish said while addressing the 80th annual session of the Indian Road Congress here.

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