After decades of neglect, India is building roads, including 17 highway stretches, in areas near its international borders that will double up as airstrips, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has said. While the previous UPA government had sanctioned construction of 73 strategic roads along the border, Gadkari is scaling it up with timely completion. “People residing in border areas need highway network and better infrastructure. We are building 17 such highways which can be converted into airstrips,” he told PTI in an interview here. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is working on the project in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence.
The roads will double up as airstrips and traffic will be stopped when an airplane land or takes off. The road and air connectivity will also provide better access to remote areas. “This way, people residing in border areas will have a better infrastructure,” he explained. Earlier, a committee was constituted comprising officials of both ministries to come out with specifications of such highway stretches.
The committee has looked into details like feasibility of the stretches and their length and breadth, apart from other issues. The stretches in question are across India, said officials. Last year, Gadkari had spoken of construction of such an airport in Rajasthan and similar projects are being planned in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and some other border districts.
The government is working on ways to boost regional air connectivity in the country. Under the new civil aviation policy, the regional connectivity scheme (RCS) has been mooted that provides various concessions to airlines. The minister also said there are plans to boost infrastructure in difficult areas, and in the North-East, projects worth Rs 40,000 crore have already been initiated. “We will do work worth Rs 1.5 lakh crore in Assam in two years,” he said.