Government approved eight highway projects worth Rs 6,000 crore for six states – Punjab, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha. With approval, the number of projects cleared by Road Transport and Highways Ministry this month so far has swelled to 37, entailing a total investment of about Rs 34,000 crore. “The Ministry has approved eight projects with a total length of about 350 kms and aggregate total project cost of Rs 6,000 crore,” Road Transport and Highways Secretary Sanjay Mitra said. Of these, six will be implemented in EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) mode and two in hybrid annuity mode, he said. The projects approved today include construction of partially access controlled four-lane elevated highway between Samrala Chowk to Ludhiana Municipal limit on NH 95 in Punjab on hybrid annuity mode to be executed at a cost of Rs 910 crore. Another project for Punjab pertains to four-lane Laddowal Bypass (linking NH 95 WITH NH 1 via Laddowal seed farm at Ludhiana) under NHDP on hybrid annuity mode at a cost of Rs 444 crore. Two projects approved for Jharkhand today include four/two laning with paved shoulder of Govindpur Chas-West Bengal border section of NH 32 on EPC mode at Rs 946 crore and four-laning of Barhi-Hazaribag section of NH 33 on EPC mode at a cost of Rs 700 crore. A Rs 302 crore project was approved for Madhya Pradesh for balance work of 2 lane with paved shoulder of Bhopal to Sanchi section of NH 86. Three more projects — one each for Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha — were approved today at a cost of Rs 396 crore, Rs 887 crore and Rs 1,369 crore for NH 116, NH 22 and NH 23 stretches, respectively. No clearance is required for approval of these projects as their construction cost is less than Rs 1,000 crore, the limit fixed by the government recently for award of projects by the Road Transport and Highways Ministry. The government plans to award most of these projects within this fiscal. The government has a target of awarding road contracts of 10,000 kms for this fiscal and it has so far awarded 7,677 kms. It has already set a target to increase the length of National Highways to 2 lakh kms from the existing 96,000 kms. Last week, the Ministry had approved 13 projects worth Rs 10,300 crore that included five projects by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and eight projects by the Ministry. As many as 18 projects worth Rs 17,000 crore for building about 1,000 kms of highways, including nine on the recently approved hybrid annuity mode, were approved in a meeting, chaired by Mitra, earlier this month.