New Delhi: National highways in the country will be made of concrete and will use cement instead of bitumen to reduce construction costs, minister for roadways Nitin Gadkari said on Monday after flagging off the road safety week from January 11 to 17.

He played down safety concerns from such a shift. The Mumbai-Pune Expressway, the first cement-concrete highway built in 2002, has reported many instances of vehicle tyres bursting due to heat. When asked about this, Gadkari said, “Tyre technology has changed. What you are talking about was between 1995 and 2000." He added that the government can think of bitumen surfacing on such roads if the problem arises.

He also said that based on studies done earlier which had identified 726 black spots on national highways—road locations that report large numbers of accidents—the government will have to spend around 11,000 crore to rectify them.

Gadkari also said the government might hire international consultants with technologies to transplant trees instead of cutting them for building roads.

He said that the road ministry has tweaked the rules to double lane roads with movement of over 10,000 four-wheelers. Earlier this number was 15,000. “People are buying cars and traffic is increasing, so we have come up with widening of highways." Gadkari said.

“We would try that not even a single national highway in the country is single lane." He added that special focus would be given to hilly states like Himachal Pradesh and the northeast where frequent landslides occur.

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