The Bihar government has decided to develop the road connecting Bodh Gaya to Patna into a four-lane express highway with funding from the Japan International Cooperation Agency, officials said on Saturday.
"The proposed project of widening of the 110-km stretch between Bodh Gaya to Patna and developing it as a four lane express highway is ready and work will begin soon," said an official in the Chief Minister's Office.
At present, the road only has two lanes and is in a bad condition. According to officials, the project is estimated to cost Rs 1,210 crore.
According to Bihar Road Construction Minister Nand Kishore Yadav, the JICA will provide financial assistance to the state for the project.
Earlier in February, during the inauguration of the three-day Buddha Mahotsava festival, Kumar had announced the construction of the road to improve connectivity and boost tourism to the holy site.
Kumar had then described it as an ambitious project that will change the tourism scenario of the state.
"Kumar has requested Union Highway Minister C P Joshi two days ago, during the latter's visit to the state to inaugurate Kosi Mahasetu in Supaul district, to help the state start work on the project soon," officials said.
In January, Kumar had asked concerned officials to go ahead with the development of the the 'Buddhist circuit' in the state. "He also directed officials to identify undiscovered places associated with Buddha in this Buddhist circuit," officials said.
The Buddhist circuit of Bihar comprises shrines in Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali and Kesaria. Kumar's ambitious plans for developing the Buddhist circuit include world class road networks, construction of modern budget and higher-end hotels and facilitating direct rail links and air services to Bodh Gaya, Rajgir and Vaishali.
The project will be completed in two phases. In the first phase, the four-lane road between Bodh Gaya to Patna will be constructed. In the second phase, four-lane roads will be developed from Gaya to Rajgir, Nalanda and Vaishali.
The Bihar Road Development Corporation Limited has been made the nodal agency by the Union ministry of road and national highway.
Officials of the state tourism department admitted that bad roads connecting important places in the 'Buddhist circuit' are now hampering their growth potential and tarnishing the state's image among tourists, especially foreigners.
The Bihar State Tourism Development Corporation's officials claimed that the state had attracted more than 5.27 lakh foreign tourists till November 2011.