20,000-km highways on PPP project underway; state roads to get facelift from October

September 27, 2014

JAIPUR: The Public Works Department (PWD) has identified 8,910-km state highways (SHs) and major district roads (MDRs) to be built under the state government’s ambitious 20,000-km road construction project. The entire project is to be completed over the next five years, involving an investment of Rs 70,000 crore on PPP mode.

Proposals for development of the SHs and MDRs to be built in phase-I with 29 packages (investors) have been finalised in consultation with the Planning Commission. In addition, the PWD would undertake construction of 3000-km roads in nearly 3,000 villages under the “Gramin Gaurav Path” Yojana under PPP mode.

“Work for building the roads would begin by November,” PWD minister Yunus Khan told reporters on Friday. “From October 1, we will also begin patchwork of roads damaged in the monsoon. Around 48,000-km broken roads would be repaired, which would cost between Rs 600 crore to Rs 1,000 crore by early next year. We have already got Rs 400 crore for it,” Khan said. Besides, the department was working on repair of 163-km stretch of the Jaipur-Delhi National Highway. “Our part of the NH repair would be completed by March 2015,” the PWD minister said.

For proper planning, monitoring and execution of the ambitious infrastructure project for the next five years, a dedicated PPP division has been set up with 34 senior engineers and officers, headed by additional chief engineer Shiv Lahari Sharma. The division, which was inaugurated by the minister on Friday, would be merged with the Rajasthan State Highway Authority created under the Rajasthan State Highway Bill, 2014, recently passed by the state assembly.

The minister attempted to dispel public apprehension about the state roads becoming a ‘web of toll taxes’ under the PPP mode. “There are 1.10 crore registered vehicles in the state, and of these, just 8 lakh (or 9%) vehicles are levied; but that too only when they move on the toll roads, which happens once or twice a month. What is the harm in paying a small amount as toll when we are getting smooth roads that reduce the travel time considerably?” Khan reasoned. The minister said the state had 1.95-lakh-km-long roads. “For maintaining them, we have two options – either tax everyone (for government funding) or tax just the commuters on particular roads (PPP mode),” Khan said.

“We want Rajasthan to emerge as a model state in road infrastructure. The way to achieve it is through PPP; there will be no looking back on the path we have taken,” the minister emphasized. He added that the state would soon come up a toll policy.

PWD principal secretary D B Gupta said of the 1.95 lakh km state roads, the department was earlier maintaining about 1.25 lakh km in cities and on the highways. “About 70 private investors have now approached the department to work on PPP mode for road construction so far,” Gupta said.


Source:Times of India

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