Panel holds talks on metro viaduct

September 27, 2013

By Express News Service – KOCHI


A committee constituted by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways held detailed discussions and carried out site visit to settle issues related to permissions required from National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for the construction of the proposed Metro viaduct.

The committee consists of Project Chief Engineer (Ministry of Road Transport and Highways) Nahar, Director Projects KMRL Mahesh Kumar and Project Director Palakkad NHAI P Ramanathan.

The site visit was held along the Aluva- Edappally stretch of the national highway for the construction of the proposed Metro viaduct along the central median of NH 47 on the stretch.

Issues like the width of the road during the construction with barricading and the width of the road after construction of viaducts and the ways to ensure smooth traffic near the Metro stations on the NH were the key points of discussions.

“The discussions were positive and we are hopeful of finalising the matter very soon,” said Elias George, MD, KMRL.






Delhi-Gurgaon toll road project gets more muddled

September 27, 2013



Ministry looking at making a criminal liability case


The Delhi-Gurgaon toll road project is getting further tangled in controversies. The Highways Ministry is considering whether a criminal liability case can be made on the project.

This is what emerges in a letter sent by Highway Ministry Secretary Vijay Chhibber to NHAI Chairman R.P. Singh on Thursday.

Simultaneously, the Haryana Government has backed off from its earlier stated intention of buying out the project to make it toll free and ease the pain for commuters facing jams on the toll road. With this, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will have to buy-back the concession agreement, at the earliest, the Secretary said.

On Wednesday, NHAI Chairman had written to Highway Secretary to decide how the project could be handed over to Haryana State Government.

A day later, on Thursday, the Road Secretary wrote back to NHAI that in a meeting between Highways Minister and Haryana Chief Minister – held in the presence of Highway Secretary, NHAI Chairman and Haryana Chief Secretary – it was “patently clear that the Government of Haryana is not pursuing its earlier intention of buying out that project”.

Given the importance of the issue and the prevailing uncertainty, the Ministry will also seek assistance from Attorney General to represent NHAI in pursuing this matter in Delhi High Court. This project is already under dispute due to the multiple issues and hearings are going in Delhi High Court.

Due to the toll road developer not meeting his commitments on road maintenance and commuters facing a lot of inconvenience, NHAI had decided to terminate the project.

But, the project lenders – currently led by IDFC – have given more money to the developer than the project cost agreed upon by the Government. So, if the contract is cancelled, they will get less money from the NHAI. Now, the lenders do not want NHAI to cancel the project as they have to chase the road developer – DSC Ltd – for the repayment, who is already financially stressed.

Indications are that the issue has been referred to Chief Vigilance Commissioner and the Enforcement Directorate to pursue whether the road developer had used inter-corporate deposit route to transfer funds from the escrow account, where toll money received from project were kept.


Work awarded for AIIMS-Digha elevated road

September 25, 2013

Faizan Ahmad, TNN |

PATNA: Yet another glamorous project of Bihar State Road Development Corporation (BSRDC) started taking shape on Tuesday when the work for about 12km-long 4-lane elevated road corridor between AIIMS and Digha in Patna was awarded to a construction major.Once completed, the road will provide much relief from the traffic congestion in the city, particularly on the narrow Ashok Rajpath as it would be connected with the Ganga Path at Digha end. Eleven construction firms took part in the bidding, which was aggressive as well as close. The project was awarded to M/s Gammon India Ltd which quoted the lowest bid of Rs 717.14 crore.”This project is for the construction of 2-lane semi-elevated and 4-lane elevated highway over Patna canal as approach road of rail-cum-road project across the Ganga at Digha. The length of the elevated road is 11.9km,” said BSRDC managing director Pratyaya Amrit in whose presence the tenders were opened.The starting point of the project is 6.8km of NH-98 near AIIMS and the end point is at the junction of Ganga Path. It will have 2km of 2-lane semi-elevated and 9.90km of 4-lane elevated roads. The BSRDC had projected Rs 1,289 crore as the total cost of the project. Among the major bidders included L&T, Punj Lloyd, HCCL and Navyuga Engineering. A few months back, Navyuga was awarded the Ganga Path project work which is scheduled to commence on October 11.

The elevated road project will have major crossings at Bailey Road and Ashok Rajpath and will have connectivity with important places like Danapur railway station, proposed Patliputra railway station and AIIMS. Besides, it will also have connectivity with the Ganga Path and one railway bridge at Khagaul (Patna-Delhi) line. One minor bridge will also be linked to this project which is scheduled to be completed in three years from the start of the work.

Gammon India is already working on some projects in the state, including the state highways 69, 70 and 91 besides Muzaffarpur-Hajipur road, Ara-Buxar road, Munger bridge and Baluaha bridge. Some of these projects have been delayed, admitted company’s regional office vice-president B K Singh. He said the delay was due to land acquisition and other issues. “Almost all companies are facing these problems due to government policy,” he added.

Amrit said since this is one of the prestigious projects, the BSRDC will strictly monitor the schedule of the work and keep a close vigil on other related issues to ensure that the firm maintains the deadline.

Govt to set up infra trust funds to spur investments

September 24, 2013

Road Ministry to award 6,500 km of projects on EPC basis in 2013-14

The Union government is looking to set up an infrastructure trust fund, similar to real estate investment trusts in countries such as Singapore, by November to spur investments in the infrastructure sector.

India’s infrastructure sector has been struggling for the past few years due to lack of investments as banks have been wary of lending due to policy constraints.The government is looking to improve investments in the sector even as the parliamentary elections are less than a year away.

Under the infrastructure trusts, the underlying revenue of a projectwill be transferred to a trust, which will issue units to investors, including foreign investors who want to buy the units.

“A major reason why some PPP (public-private partnership) projects in the infrastructure sector have run into problems is that many private partners did not price the risk in projects over a 25-year time frame. We are looking to set up an infrastructure trust fund in two months to ensure long-term management of projects,” said Arvind Mayaram, secretary, department of economic affairs.

Mayaram added the government was looking to develop the corporate bond market and encourage the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) to invest in infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile, in a move to boost investments in the road sector, the ministry of road transport and highways is also looking to award close to 6,500 km of road projects through the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode in 2013-14.

“We are planning to award 6,500 km of road projects on the EPC basis this year,” said Vijay Chhibber, secretary, ministry of roads.

The ministry has been actively looking to award projects on the EPC basis for the past few years as a number of projects have been struggling since they were awarded on the build-operate-transfer (BoT) model. The ministry will also award three major expressway projects by the end of the year, according to Chhibber.

The move comes at a time when the road ministry has been able to award only 1,400 km of road projects against a target of 9,500 km in the last financial year.

Under the EPC model, the government spends the entire money required to build roads unlike the BoT mode, where the constructor builds a project and charges a toll on the same.

The ministry has also said an independent road regulator will be in place before the end of the year and the authority is expected to play an adjudicatory role and advice the government on existing road projects in addition to working on the toll mechanism in the country.

“There have been contrarian views on a road regulator and we think we need a road regulator’, Chhibber said.

Road projects in the country have been held up since the past few years due to various reasons, including the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway. The government had awarded close to 3,055 km through the EPC mode in 2005-06, but has since managed to award less than 500 km through the EPC route. Meanwhile, BoT projects continued to perform better during the years and the ministry managed to award more than 6,400 km in 2011-12 alone.

Meanwhile, the government is also looking to set up a fund to promote debt and equity investment in the infrastructure sector. “There will be greater deepening of the equity and bond markets for financing the infrastructure sector in the next few months,” Mayaram said.

The government is also looking to set up an International Trust Fund where the underlying revenue of a project will be transferred to a trust which will issue units to investors, including foreign investors who want to buy the units, he added.


NHAI, Collector play ping-pong over encroachments

September 24, 2013

Vendors have encroached both sides of service roads at Vyttila, stifling the movement of vehicles and pedestrians. Photo: Vipin Chandran

(The Hindu-Vendors have encroached both sides of service roads at Vyttila, stifling the
movement of vehicles and pedestrians. Photo: Vipin Chandran)

 NHAI unwilling to take the lead in removing encroachers on its service roads                                 along   Edappally-Aroor NH Bypass

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is on a collision course with the district administration over removing encroachers from the service roads of the Edappally-Aroor NH Bypass.

The NHAI, which owns the stretch and collects hefty toll from motorists using the bypass, is unwilling to take the lead in removing vendors, encroachers and vehicles parked haphazardly on service roads. As a result, accidents and brawls between motorists and encroachers are becoming common on the stretches.

NHAI Kochi project director C.T. Abraham said it was up to the District Collector to initiate action. “The Collector is armed with magisterial powers and chairs the district-level Road Safety Committee. He can also take action based on court orders which permit a clampdown against encroachers. He can even direct the police to charge rule violators with causing public nuisance. He must form a committee comprising officials of various departments and launch an intensive anti-encroachment drive,” Mr. Abraham said.

Meanwhile, District Collector P.I. Sheikh Pareeth said the NHAI project director had wide-ranging quasi-judicial powers, using which he could remove encroachers and take action against illegal parking.

“The NHAI owns the highway and service roads and hence is its custodian,” Mr. Pareeth said.

On the NHAI’s complaint that the road safety committee not taking action against rule violators, the Collector said the NHAI was yet to present the matter before the committee despite encroachers thriving along the crucial and busy corridor. “We will assign police protection if the NHAI is willing to take the lead in removing encroachers,” he said.

The traffic police have for years been complaining that the NHAI was not cooperating with it in ensuring safe movement of vehicles and pedestrians along the bypass and its service roads. “We shot off numerous letters to the NHAI, demanding eviction of encroachers and augmenting safety measures along the 16-km stretch. The attitude of motorists who think that service roads are meant for parking has worsened the plight of road users,” said a senior traffic police officer.

The NHAI’s unwillingness to lead or coordinate the enforcement drive and its dissonance with otheragencies have resulted in the bypass and service roads becoming a haven for rule violators. A long-pending suggestion to limit parking to light vehicles along one side of the service road has also fallen on deaf ears.

As a result, encroachers have even gone to the extent of adding road shoulders to their property, by tying ropes up to 10 metres into service roads and treating the NHAI-owned area as their own, especially in front of a shopping mall at Vyttila.

Sources said frequent encroachments into service roads could be checked if the tarred surface was widened from 5.5 metres to seven metres.

“Service roads have ample width in most portions and tarring road shoulders will ensure smooth two-way traffic when traffic curbs are introduced as part of proposed flyovers at four junctions on the bypass. A proposal in this regard is pending with the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for many years,” sources said.

About two months ago, the district administration had threatened to slap criminal action against the NHAI for the shabby upkeep of the bypass. While the NHAI filled a few potholes at Vyttila Junction a week ago, nothing was done to resurface the potholed free-left turn towards mobility hub and Tripunithura. This has forced the police to issue a notice to the NHAI demanding urgent filling of all potholes on the bypass.



Oscar Fernandes urged to enhance road connectivity

September 24, 2013

TNN | Sep 23, 2013, 11.25 PM IST

MYSORE: The tourist hub requires improved road connectivity and the Centre will focus on it, said Oscar Fernandes, Union road transport and highways minister, here on Monday.Referring to the demand to upgrade state highway connecting Mysore to Malavalli as a national highway, the minister said that he will do it. “That should serve Mysore better,” he told reporters.

Chamaraja MLA Vasu and Mysore Chamber of Commerce & Industry team met the minister and submitted a memorandum, seeking improved connectivity to Mysore. They urged him to connect Mysore to Malavalli so that travellers between Mysore and Bangalore have an alternative route. This is because, NH-209, that connects Bangalore to Dindigul in Tamil Nadu, passes through Malavalli. They claimed that the stretch between Mysore and Malavalli is a missing link.

In his petition, Vasu has pointed out that Mysore is missed out from NHs’ network though two busiest highways – NH-212 and NH-209 — pass close to it. “People have been demanding that NHs provide connectivity to Mysore,” he said.

The minister said that projects in Karnataka are in focus, and connectivity is his main concern. “But the problem is land acquisition,” he said, adding that NH projects will be hastened following a clarification from the apex court that roadside trees do not require environment clearance.

Anti-toll campaign: one hurdle tackled, more laps to go

September 20, 2013

Siddhartha Rai, Hindustan Times  Gurgaon,

With Union minister for road transport and highways Oscar Fernandes himself working on a solution to ease traffic congestion on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, we think that something has finally been achieved after 50 editions of HT’s “Taking a Toll” campaign and it is time to take the endeavour to the next level.

As the minister visited the problem areas on the expressway and interacted with the people, the first-hand experience of people’s frustration and ire moved him to announce the proposal for an elevated bridge at Hero Honda Chowk.

“The flyover will cost nearly `100 crore and take 18 months to construct, but it will be a permanent solution that will go a long way in easing the traffic flow on this stretch of National Highway-8. We will also plead with the court for an early resolution to the expressway issue,” Fernandes had told HT after a meeting with Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, as the two met at Transport Bhawan, New Delhi, on Wednesday.

For the people

HT had turned its attention to the expressway after a public outcry over the project that had originally been conceived to catapult Gurgaon to the league of global business cities, but has eventually become a thorn in the side of residents.

HT took up cudgels on behalf of hapless people reeling under inordinate traffic holdups at the Sirhaul and Kherki Daula toll plazas and the lack of basic amenities that cost people their lives.

Through its activism, HT succeeded in lifting the morale of people who had lost all hope for anything to change with the expressway. The people’s movement in Gurgaon against the toll plazas and other issues was reactivated.

“In recent times, HT’s campaign against the expressway problems and the toll plazas is an example for other media houses to emulate. HT’s campaign has empowered us and the extensive coverage that included inside stories like the CAG’s censure of the project has not just informed us but also recharged us to carry on our struggle,” said Attar Singh Sandhu, general secretary of Toll Hatao Sangharsh Samiti, a citizens’ pressure group fighting for the removal of toll.

The issues that were taken up ranged from traffic jams that amounted to lost opportunities and salary cuts for commuters to technical matters like inherent design faults.

HT also traversed the psychological space of the daily victims of the expressway. How the expressway and the toll plazas are not just a physical, but also psychological barriers; how they have led to deteriorating mental health of the people; how efficiencies have dropped and how because of the toll plazas several industrial houses decided to shift from Gurgaon.

Journalistic activism

On its half-a-hundred-long journey, HT tried to leave no stone unturned, no door un-knocked; HT shook up all the trees to thrash out a panacea for a city dying under the pressure of its own traffic. From the chief minister of Haryana to the Union ministry of road transport and highways, from the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to the negligent concessionaire DGSCL, HT barked at all the trees.

The problems were approached surgically for an acute and correct analysis; rather than pontification, people were involved to voice their concerns and responsibilities were fixed unfazed.

HT roped in experts from all walks of life to come up with an informed opinion rather than just conjecture and hollow reportage.

These people of intellect and experience not just showed the way to authentic information and analysis, but also came up with solutions and suggestions that shaped public opinion.


From otherwise-stolid local, state and national authorities, people started getting response. The joint commissioner of police (traffic) issued public notices to the agencies concerned; the NHAI sloughed off tardiness and took penal action against the concessionaire for having left the expressway to rot.

The agency even took matters in its own hands and ordered re-carpeting of service roads of the expressway, censuring DGSCL and charging the expenses on the company with a 15% surcharge.

A stretch of service road on the Delhi side was completed; the NHAI and the Haryana Urban Development Authority pooled in money for a foot-overbridge (FOB) at Hero Honda Chowk; the two agencies also finalised the construction of an FOB between Signature Tower and Iffco Chowk.

Looking forward

HT has now decided to expand its horizons. Yet again, on popular demand, HT wants to go hyper-local and look at the daily traffic mess that the internal traffic system of the city is in. This is an extension of our enterprise to make a difference to daily living in Gurgaon.

One of our experts Rohit Baluja, president of the Institute of Road Traffic Education, New Delhi, rightly pointed out, “Local authorities of Gurgaon found it easy to go with the development that was triggered with the expressway despite knowing that the national highway was not meant for local traffic and did not develop the internal road and traffic system properly.”












Delay road project, be ready for zero toll

September 13, 2013



New Delhi, Sept. 12: Motorists will not pay any toll for the period by which a private contractor widening a national highway overshoots the deadline, says a proposal sent to the cabinet for approval.

It adds that the toll will be slashed by 25 per cent from the day the widening project starts till the day the deadline arrives.

The proposal by the Union road transport and highways ministry comes after motorists complained about having to pay for driving on highways damaged by ongoing construction of lanes parallel to them. The move is also aimed at prodding the contractors to finish projects on time.

A toll is now charged only on highways with four or more lanes, but there is no exemption if some of the lanes are under construction. For instance, a private contractor can start charging toll on a two-lane highway from Day One of the project to build two additional lanes.

Contractors, therefore, lack an incentive to finish work on time. Widening a four-lane highway, on the other hand, brings no additional toll because it’s the length of a national highway and not its width that determines the rate.

“If a contractor is widening a four-lane road, he cannot charge a higher toll after completing the project — so why should he bother finishing it?” a ministry official said.


“Besides, the contractors fund the projects with the toll they collect instead of investing fresh money. The pace of the project, therefore, slows down since it depends on the trickle of the toll instead of a big capital investment.”

Under the proposed policy, motorists will pay 75 per cent of the toll while a two-lane or four-lane road is being widened. If the project is unfinished when the deadline arrives, they will pay nothing till construction is complete.

If the new policy is cleared, the government too will have to pull up its socks because bureaucratic tardiness is also a factor in highway projects getting delayed. Acquiring land and getting clearances from the environment and other ministries is the government’s responsibility.

“We have decided that tenders will not be floated for any project till 80 per cent of the required land is acquired,” the official said.

The proposed policy provides for a steeper penalty for overloaded vehicles and, unlike now, allows a higher toll on expressways (which don’t allow pedestrian crossings and have no traffic intersections) than on other national highways.

After much debate with the Planning Commission, which wanted the expressway toll to be several times higher than the highway toll, the ministry has proposed that the expressway toll will be 1.25 times the highway toll.

The ministry had been working on this policy for the past one year. The “zero toll” clause for exceeding the deadline owes to the new minister, Oscar Fernandes.

If the policy is approved soon, it will apply to the contracts to be awarded this financial year for the construction of at least 2,500km of roadways. The last toll policy was framed in 2008; the one before it in 1997.


Most highway projects are now awarded on a build-operate-toll mode. A private contractor spends his own money to build or widen a road and collects toll on it for an agreed period of 15 to 25 years. A portion of the collections goes to the National Highway Authority of India.


Highlights of the proposed national highway toll policy


• Toll for a four-lane road can be charged on wo-lane highway the day widening starts

• No financial disincentive for private contractor for project delay


• Only 75 per cent of the toll can be charged from Day One of project till deadline

• If deadline exceeded, zero toll till project is complete




Upgradation of approach roads in Wazirpur industrial area begins

September 12, 2013


Upgradation of approach roads in Wazirpur industrial area begins
(New Delhi: The upgradation of approach roads in Wazirpur industrial area begun here yesterday with the Telecom and IT Minister Kapil Sibal and Delhi Transport Minister Haroon Yusuf inaugurating the work.)
New Delhi: All industrial areas of the national capital would be developed with modern infrastructure and signal window system would also be provided for fast development of industries, Yusuf said.

Delhi government envisages making Delhi a hub of clean, high technology and skilled economic activities, he added.

He said the services of Wazirpur Industrial Area, spread over 210 acres, were taken over from North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) in December last year.

“Total length of all roads of Wazirpur Industrial Area, with road width varying from six to 25 metres, is 18.6 kilometres.

Almost all the roads of the industrial area were in a dilapidated condition. The work of improvement of major approach roads would be completed within six months at a cost of Rs 13 crore,” Yusuf said.

The industrial area is on the top of production of stainless steel products and exported goods worth Rs 1,000 crore per annum.

The scope of work includes redevelopment and up-gradation of 2,829 metre length with cement concrete roads, he said, adding DSIIDC intends to upgrade the infrastructure of the industrial areas by improving roads and drains as well as footpaths.


Committee set up to improve 1,700 km roads in TN

September 12, 2013


An empowered committee has been formed to ensure better coordination between various departments for implementing a project to improve 1,700 km of roads across Tamil Nadu in a time-bound manner.

The Union Department of Economic Affairs had proposed the Tamil Nadu Road Sector Project-II for accessing the $300-million assistance from the World Bank. The committee will be headed by the State Minister of Highways and Minor Ports as chairman.

The committee, while having the Minister as chairman, will have Chief Secretary, Principal Secretaries to Finance and Highways and Minor Ports Departments besides Project Director of the Tamil Nadu Road Sector Project as members.

The action plan for the project, approved by the government, involves financial strategy such as tolling of high-density traffic corridors, levy of cess on motor fuel and /or motor vehicle tax and ring fencing into State road fund.


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