Bengal public works department minister Aroop Biswas said he was not aware of the Centre's decision to take back the responsibility of maintaining NH10's stretch in the Darjeeling hills less than a year after the state government had been given the task.
Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari had said in Gangtok on Friday that the 52km stretch of the highway in Bengal, which is from Sevoke to Rangpo, would be taken over by the Centre and would be handed over to the National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL).
"I have ordered the takeover and will sign the documents after returning to Delhi. The NHIDCL will take over," said Gadkari.
Asked about Gadkari's statement, Biswas, who was in Darjeeling in connection with the campaign for civic polls, said: "I have not heard about it. I do not have the details. Let me first get the details before talking about the next step."
NH10 was previously called NH31A.
Sources said Gadkari was not pleased with the condition of the highway in Bengal, which is of much military importance as it leads to the Indo-China border in Sikkim.
The NHIDCL is a fully-owned company of the Union ministry of road transport and highways and promotes surveys, maintains and upgrades national highway and strategic roads.
Observers said the state government should have been kept in the loop before the Centre made the announcement.
Since 1969, the Border Roads Organisation, which is under the ministry of defence, had been maintaining the 96km stretch of NH10. However, on June 7, 2016, the 52km stretch in Bengal was handed over to the state PWD for its maintenance from the BRO.
The 44km stretch in Sikkim is still being maintained by the BRO.