New Delhi: The increasing demand of funds for maintenance of roads by the states is giving a tough time for the Union government, which has sought alternative suggestions from the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to deal with the situation.

According to sources in the Road Transport and Highways Ministry, for the maintenance of national highways a budget of Rs 700 crores was allocated under the National Road Fund. The amount made available from the Centre to the states for the maintenance of 70,000 kilometres of roads is falling short. Because a fund of Rs 5,000-7,000 crores is needed for upkeep of this mammoth network, added the sources.

The situation is such that, Bihar has charged the government of Rs 970 crores for the maintenance cost of roads incurred by it during 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Also, Orissa Chief Minister Navin Patnaik has asked Rs 50 crores from the Centre for repairing of the roads damaged during the recent floods, while Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda has also made a similar demand.

Though the build-operate-transfer (BOT) format is helpful for the Union government in building roads, the states are left in a lurch as the Centre cannot provide funds for their maintenance until their completion.

According to the states, the tender process itself takes about two-year time to complete and by that time the condition of roads turns miserable. 

The national highways that do not levy any toll tax are becoming a headache for the Central government as the responsibility for their upkeep lies with the states. Therefore, the Ministry has sought the NHAI suggestions to meet the ever-increasing cost of maintenance.

JPN/Bureau