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Land problem? Shorten highway

New Delhi, July 26: Expressway to Mumbai? Sorry, it might just fall short.

The road transport and highways ministry is thinking of ending the planned Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway 40km from the country’s financial capital because of land problems.

The project is in the pipeline since 1992, when the alignment for the expressway was first firmed up. The alignment, which runs almost parallel to NH-8, was modified in 2008.

“The process of land acquisition is still on. We have acquired most of the land in Gujarat, but Maharashtra is still posing a problem,” National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) chairman R.P. Singh told The Telegraph.

Sources said the ministry was debating whether the expressway — to be linked with the existing Ahmedabad-Vadodara Expressway — should be stopped 40km short of Mumbai at Dahisar. “Ideally, the expressway should be extended till the heart of Mumbai city. But there is a lot of encroachment from Dahisar onwards till Mumbai. We do not have the required breadth of road. If we include this section, the project will remain stuck for decades,” a ministry official said, voicing a fear that should find resonance in Bengal.

The highway is among half a dozen planned expressways the road ministry has decided to speed up following a prod from the PMO last Friday when the Prime Minister’s principal secretary, Pulok Chatterjee, held a meeting to discuss expressway projects.

The PMO asked the road ministry to fast-track all such projects. Five other expressways — Calcutta-Dhanbad, Chennai-Bangalore, Delhi-Jaipur, the Eastern Peripheral Expressway around Delhi and Delhi-Meerut — are also in the pipeline.