New Delhi/Hoshiarpur: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari inaugurated and laid foundation stones of 29 national highway projects worth Rs 4,000 crore in Punjab on Wednesday.
The projects included Ladhowal bypass, and a six-lane flyover and two-lane Road Over Bridge (ROB) in Ludhiana, four-lane Jalandhar-Kapurthala section and strengthening of Jalandhar-Makhu road.
Gadkari laid the foundation stones of projects, including four-lane of Hoshiarpur-Phagwara and Ferozepur Bypass, construction of nine road projects in Amritsar, Kapurthala and Ludhiana, construction of ROB in Kartarpur, Gehari Mandi village (Amritsar), Kanganiwal village (Jalandhar), and Tarn-Taran Bypass under Setu Bandhan Yojana, among others.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and ministers Brahm Shanker Jimpa, Harjot Bains, Harbhajan Singh, were conspicuous by their absence, drawing a sharp reaction from the BJP.
Other leaders, whose names were printed on invitation cards, including AAP MP Sushil Rinku, Congress MPs Manish Tiwari, Muhammad Sadiq, Jasbir Singh Gill, Ravneet Bittu, Shiromani Akali Dal Chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, Rajya Sabha members Ashok Kumar Mittal, Sant Balbir Singh Seechewal, Sanjeev Arora, were also not present.
Punjab BJP chief Sunil Jakhar accused the AAP leadership of deliberately choosing to give the event a miss, and said, "This manifests hollowness and crassness of the AAP government's intentions and promises of development."
"While Gadkari ji was waiting for the Chief Minister to discuss the resolution of pending projects, Mann's chopper could not fly today while it flies for all frivolous purposes," Jakhar alleged.
"The CM must have known about the weather and could have travelled by road. This is not only disrespectful to a senior Union Minister but also shows the attitude of state leaders, including the Chief Minister, who could have easily deputed a cabinet minister for attending the event," Jakhar said.
Earlier, addressing a gathering here, Gadkari said the BJP-led government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is building expressways, including green expressways, which are helping shortening distances between places.
The minister for road transport and highways further said five greenfield expressways and economic corridors are being built at a cost of Rs 1.20 lakh crore for better connectivity from Punjab to Delhi, Chandigarh, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Haryana.
He also spoke about the 670 km greenfield expressway Delhi-Amritsar-Katra project, saying once this project is complete, one can reach Amritsar from Delhi in four hours and Katra from Delhi in six hours, he said.
At the event, Gadkari also announced additional projects worth Rs 12,000 crore for the development of road infrastructure in the state. He said the work of a four-lane highway from the Amritsar airport to Ramdas will be completed in 2024, which will ease the way to the Kartarpur Corridor.
A 75-km green-field highway from Ludhiana to Bathinda at a cost of Rs 2,000 crore is scheduled for completion by 2025, reducing travel time to 45 minutes with connectivity to Halwara Airport.
Gadkari appealed to the Punjab government to expedite the land acquisition process for the Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur national highway project.
The minister acknowledged the demand for constructing bypasses at Bhogpur, Dasuya, and Mukerian made by Union Minister of State Som Parkash. On this occasion, former MP Vijay Sampla, Punjab BJP chief Sunil Jakhar, among others, were present.