The much-awaited ambitious project of Maharashtra government Hinduhridaysamrat Balasaheb Thackeray Samruddhi Mahamarg Phase 1 between Nagpur and Shirdi was all set to be open for traffic from May 1, but it has been postponed amid spike in Covid-19 cases across the state. Now as per the revised deadline, the Phase-1 stretch will be open in September and October only if the prevailing situation improves, said an official from the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC).
He explained, "Due to the Covid-19 fearful condition among workers' their productivity on the project site has drastically reduced. The progress of construction work is slow compared to pre-covid period. Besides, due to the lockdown, the contractors are finding it difficult to procure raw material. There is a shortage and there are insufficient workers to carry out the work. There are other major factors that we are facing on the ground."
Considering the alarming Covid -19 situation in the state, the government is engaged in providing medical facilities. Completing the infrastructure projects on set timeline at present is not the priority as many government agencies have been roped in to set up Covid-19 care centres, the official asserted.
According to the initial plans, after the Phase-1 opening in May, the Phase-2 stretch between Shirdi and Igatpuri comprising 103-km was supposed to be open for the public in December. The remaining stretch of 78-km between Igatpuri and Wadpe near Mumbai was to be commissioned on May 1, 2022. However, due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown all phase deadlines have been postponed.
Of the 701-km long Samruddhi Mahamarg project reportedly till March 31, around 52.6 per cent of financial expenditure progress and 55 per cent of the civil progress was recorded.
This expressway passing through 10 districts, 26 talukas and 392 villages once ready will cut down the travel time between Nagpur and Mumbai from existing 16 to eight hours. Currently, to reach Nagpur, one has to take NH3 (Mumbai-Dhule) and then NH6 (Dhule -Nagpur) comprising 800 kilometres.