India, China to sign cooperation pact in road sector

September 12, 2013

Dipak Kumar Dash, TNN |


NEW DELHI: India and China are set to sign an agreement for cooperation in the road and transport sector when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Beijing in October. One of the areas would be cooperation in sharing of information on transport infrastructure.Government sources said the transport ministries of both sides have approved the details of the proposed agreement.

Sources said the identified areas of cooperation include sharing best practices in road and bridge building technologies, policies, intelligent traffic system besides road-related issues. China has taken huge strides in building world class highways, and has built over 60,000 km of expressways. Plans are afoot to build around 18,000 km of expressways in India.

China has also made a mark in speedy implementation of infrastructure projects, particularly road and rail. “Once we have technology sharing, it will help us push the pace of construction. They have also improved their record in reducing road deaths in the past six-seven years. Cooperation will open a window of opportunity for both the countries,” an official said.

Around half-a-dozen road projects are being built with participation of Chinese companies. Sources said all these projects were bagged by private entities in which Chinese firms had a share.

Sources said no project has been identified that can be taken up under this cooperation. “This is just a beginning. As we progress, projects will be identified,” the official said.

The other major area of cooperation will in the electronic mode of collecting toll (ETC). China is way ahead of India in this sector. India also plans to bring all toll plazas on national highways under ETC so that people can pass through all plazas using a single smart card.

India and China will also cooperate in the field of intelligent traffic system, vehicle specifications and their certification. While India is likely to benefit from Chinese sharing of information and knowledge, China will learn from India’s success in implementing public-private-partnership projects.

Last year, former highways minister C P Joshi had reached out to Chinese infrastructure companies to invest in the road sector. He had said around 40 road construction projects were being undertaken by companies from China, Russia, the UK, Dubai, Singapore, Italy, South Korea, Malaysia, Spain and Thailand.


Stop toll collection on roads that miss work deadline, NHAI says

September 3, 2013

Dipak Kumar Dash, TNN |

Stop toll collection on roads that miss work deadline, NHAI says
NHAI wants to suspend toll collection on stretches where work has fallen way behind schedule.

NEW DELHI: Faced with massive criticism over its decision allowing highway developers to charge toll on road widening projects even during the construction phase, the National Highways Authority of India wants to suspend toll collection on stretches where work has fallen way behind schedule.

NHAI has sought in-principle approval for the move from the road transport and highways ministry, citing the example of the Gurgaon-Jaipur stretch of NH-8 where the widening work has missed several deadlines. The authority says it has been receiving a number of representations from the public, questions in Parliament and adverse media attention over the messy state of this road.

TOI has been campaigning for toll to be suspended on the Gurgaon-Jaipur road, which is being widened from four lanes to six lanes, because users have a harrowing time negotiating the stretch and also have to pay for the inconvenience. Once the proposal gets the ministry’s nod, NHAI wants to apply the no-toll penalty on the developer of the Gurgaon-Jaipur highway before taking similar action on other “languishing” projects.

Among other major works that have missed several deadlines is the Panipat-Jalandhar six-laning project, which is now in the Supreme Court. Widening of the Faridabad-Agra stretch has recently started where the developer is charging toll.

As per the contract norms, developers are allowed to charge full toll on stretches being expanded from four to six lanes from the day NHAI allows work to start. The model has come under criticism for allowing developers to keep getting revenue despite failing to meet deadlines.

NHAI wants the no-toll penalty to apply to cases where the private developer has failed to properly maintain the stretch and missed completion targets despite the land being acquired for the work.

In such situations, the current contracts empower NHAI to take over the stretch and collect toll. But since this does not bring any relief to road users, who still have to pay toll for travelling through substandard and congested stretches, NHAI has suggested stopping toll collection as a deterrent for consistent defaulters.

“Since the contract agreement does not have a provision of suspending toll, we have sought permission from the ministry. This is an issue of public interest,” said a senior NHAI official.

Sources said that in such cases the contract period can be extended for developers.

A top ministry official expressed reservations over the proposal although he told TOI he had not read NHAI’s letter yet. “How can such a decision be taken just like that? The authority has never raised this issue in the past. Such a proposal should first be considered by the NHAI board since it involves contracts, private developers and bankers,” he added.

Officials said the issue involved finances and there were questions over the developer’s ability to pay loan installments during the toll suspension period.

However, S P Singh of Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training (IFTRT), who has taken up the issue of no-toll on incomplete stretches, said NHAI’s suggestion was justified. “Toll is not a tax, but a user fee, which simply means we pay toll only when the promised services are provided. Why should one pay toll until this commitment is met?” he asked.

Errant road builders may have to pay fine to exit project

August 12, 2013









(“If there is any fault on…)

NEW DELHI: Road developers will not be blamed for delays in regulatory procedure but have to take responsibility for their own faults and may have to pay up to 1 per cent of total project cost as penalty for exiting, Road Minister Oscar Fernandes  said.”If there is any fault on the part of the concessionaire, then there will be a penalty of a maximum of one per cent, of the total project for the developer to exit the project,” he told PTI.

The government is also of the view that the developer will not be held responsible if there is any kind of delay in regulatory procedure.

“If there is delay in land acquisition or environment and forest clearance, the concessionaire will not be held responsible…in that case they will not be penalised,” Fernandes said.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is believed to have firmed up this clause after consultation with the Law Ministry.

Last month, the government approved the proposal to facilitate harmonious exit of the concessionaire in ongoing and completed National Highway Projects, a move aimed at expediting implementation of road infrastructure in the country. This was also done to insulate the National Highway Authority (NHAI) from heavy financial claims and unnecessary disputes.

The existing concessionaires both in case of completed and on-going projects have been permitted to divest their equity in totality.

The decision was triggered by lack of interest among bidders for highway projects under the PPP (public private partnership) mode and difficulties faced in achieving financial closure for such projects.

A large number of highways projects, including 20 major projects involving investment of Rs 27,000 crore, are stalled for various clearances.

Earlier this year, infrastructure players like GMR and GVK had recently walked out of mega road contracts while a large number of projects awarded during 2011-12 are yet to achieve financial closure.

The highway developers were facing acute shortage of equity and were unable to raise the required debt which in turn resulted in poor response to the PPP projects.

Meanwhile, the newly-appointed Road Minister also said that his challenge will be to work towards getting speedy environment clearances for the projects which are at present stuck.



Doubts over utility of foot over bridge

August 12, 2013

Proshun Chakraborty, TNN


NAGPUR: The Nagpur Municipal Corporation has started constructing a foot over bridge (FOB) at Law College Square. However, the question being asked is: Will the FOB be used by pedestrians?Citizens’ forums and some government officials say there is no need for a foot overbridge at that spot. The location was chosen more for the advantage of advertisers than pedestrians, they added.

“For whom the foot overbridge is being built,” asked Dinesh Naidu, secretary of Parivartan – The Citizens’ Forum. “There is no justification for constructing a bridge at the present site except that it is a prime location for hoardings,” he said in a memorandum submitted to municipal commissioner Shyam Wardhane and commissioner of police K K Pathak, urging them to stop its construction.

These FOBs are result of arbitrary planning and lack of social engineering by NMC. Many norms have been flouted by NMC in conceptualizing, designing and awarding the work of these FOBs, citizen’s forums alleged.

“Such FOBs are not only a hotbed of criminal activities but have also been social nuisance wherever they have been constructed,” the NGO stated in the memorandum. The NGO is also planning to move high court against the construction of FOBs.

The FOB at Law College is among the 24 being built by an outdoor advertisement agency on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis for NMC in lieu of advertisement rights.

Although there is a flat scheme on one side of the road, and two colleges, the square sees hardly any pedestrian movement and hence the bridge is unnecessary, Naidu explained. To prove their claim, the NGO has pointed out lack of use of FOBs in Mumbai.

Traffic activist Vinay Kunte said, “The foot over bridge is being built on the wrong spot for pedestrians,” he says, pointing out that the current location means that college students would have to walk down a few hundred meters, climb up and over, and then walk back. “It’s unlikely they’ll use it at all.”

Many feel that besides being at a wrong spot, such a bridge would be ineffective. “In general, foot over bridges are not much used. We find that people are more likely to use subway rather than a bridge, because psychologically they are more willing to go downstairs,” said an expert.

According to NMC’s executive engineer (Project) R M Hotwani, the civic body is creating the facility for pedestrians free of cost. Referring to Indian Road Congress norms, Hotwani claimed that it is mandatory for the civic body to create facilities (like FOB or subways) for pedestrians. Construction of subways is very costly and NMC is not in a position to invest money on this. So FOB was chosen, he said. He claimed that there was a demand for a FOB at Law College Square from the educational institutions situated there. “People needed some crossover at the junction,” he said. According to him, a study conducted by the PWD had said crossovers were needed at 24 places.

Some of the residents had also demanded that a signal be provided at that junction, he said. However, Law College Square foot overbridge is not the only one which has met opposition from citizens.

Points To Ponder

* To use FOB one will have to climb 30/35 steps which is very difficult for old persons

* While taking a subway people first go down 18/20 steps which is not tiring. While using a FOB they will have to climb 30/35 steps

* Young people are generally in a hurry do not like to waste their time using a FOB

* FOB is suitable only where there is heavy pedestrian traffic, mostly consisting of middle aged people


Intro: Can FOBs help solve problems for pedestrians at some of the busiest junctions of the city?

RBI Square: FOB is not needed at all as there is hardly any traffic. It is quite convenient for the pedestrians to walk

Ajni Railway Station: Not needed because people rarely take a walk from there and choose other ways to reach the places near station

LIC Square: Not needed because a zebra crossing can solve the problem of pedestrians

Mohini Complex: Resolving encroachment issue will automatically solve pedestrian problems

Chitnis Park Square: Encroachment and hawker stalls needed to be removed

Law College Square: Mostly students form the crowd and after their entry inside the college premises the mob is cleared

Shankar Nagar Square: Footpath and zebra crossing help pedestrians

Mor Bhavan: A zebra crossing can do the needful for pedestrians

Hotel Naivedyam: Clearing the mess on the footpath and a proper zebra crossing can make things easy

SFS School (Gaddigodam): A zebra crossing can help as students and their means of transport form a mob only in the noon and morning. Otherwise, the traffic situation is under control

Indora Square: Commercial complex visitors form the main crowd. A zebra crossing will help the pedestrians to walk the path

Anand Bhandar (Katol Road): Encroachment issues need some pondering which will help

Akashwani Chowk: The area is mostly crowded with two wheelers and four wheelers and there are a few pedestrians walking there. Hence there is no need of FOB

Chhatrapati Square Bus Stand: There is no need for FOB as a simple zebra crossing is enough for the pedestrians to walk

MIDAS (Janta Square): FOB construction at this square is a waste as the pedestrians prefer crossing the road using dividers

Sai Mandir: It will be a big task to remove beggars from the front side of the temple. Also, there is already a flyover on that road. Constructing FOB will create mess over there

Khamla (Sindhi Colony): There are hardly any pedestrians on Khamla Road. If required, a zebra crossing will do

Medical Square: The road near Medical Square is enough for the people to walk. Also, the relatives who come to visit patients, hardly use the road. FOB construction would be a waste

Gandhi Putla: As most of the time the road is covered with vehicles there are hardly any people who walk on this road

Agrasen Square: Footpath and dividers do the needful here. FOB is not required

City Bus Stand: Already the crowd of the buses creates havoc here and FOB will add to this.

Mayo Hospital: Relatives of patients come visiting, but they use the approach road of Mominpura. It does not affects vehicular traffic on Central Avenue.

Reshimbagh Square: This square does not have heavy pedestrian movement and hence there is no need for a FOB

Rajiv Gandhi Square: Though it a big square on Bhandara Road, the number of pedestrians is less. Hence, no need for FOB



Road work moving slowly: Jairam

August 8, 2013

By Express News Service – BHUBANESWAR

The Empowered Committee of the Ministry of Rural Development has sanctioned proposals worth Rs 1,068 crore under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. While intimating the approval of the  committee to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh expressed his displeasure over the slow pace of completion of the infrastructure projects.

“The State is required to enhance its capacity to deliver the desired quality of roads,” the empowered committee remarked.

Advising the State Government to increase the strength of the project implementation units (PIUs), Ramesh said 2,048 road works out of the project sanctioned till March, 2011, have  remained incomplete. “Unless the State enhances its execution capacity, the desired progress with respect to speed and quality cannot be achieved.

Hence, the Ministry has decided to sent the Joint Secretary along with his team to the State to have a meeting with the State officials and the contractors to resolve various issues faced by the State before August end,” Ramesh said.

The MoRD has sanctioned 343 road projects covering 1,184 km at a cost of Rs 584 crore and 140 long span bridges at an estimated cost of Rs 483 crore.

As the quality of roads constructed under the flagship programme is not satisfactory, the Union Minister has suggested that the Chief Minister should institutionalize quality monitoring system in a few selected districts and send the plan to the Ministry by the end of this month.


Road contract award far behind year’s target

August 7, 2013

BS Reporter  |  Mumbai 



If construction companies were pinning their hopes on a steady flow of highway projects in the current financial year, they might have to wait longer. A report by CARE Research says the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will be able to award only one-third of its current target.


The Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had set a target of awarding around 9,000 km of road projects in 2013-14. CARE Research expects that road projects with the length of about 3,000 km would be completed.


“The target seems to be unattainable, given the continued impediments faced by the road sector. Delay in obtaining land, forest and environmental clearances, coupled with a slowdown in macro economic conditions continue to hit projects in the sector,” the report said.


Analysts say the state-of-affairs of slow order inflows of the last financial year will continue to the first half of the current financial year as well. Many of them had expected NHAI to award as much as 3,000-4,000 km worth of projects in the first half of the year.


“The first half will see dull ordering but there is hope that the second one would be good. It all depends on how government will process infrastructure projects,” said Viral Shah, senior research analyst-infrastructure, Angel Broking. The broking firm has also taken a conservative estimate of L&T’s order inflow growth. While the infrastructure major guided a 10 per cent growth, the firm expects it to be at around 8-9 per cent, indicating a tough environment ahead.


NHAI’s delayed targets would affect construction companies as 50 per cent of awards were supposed to be on the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) model. In 2011-12, awards and road project wins on build, operate and transfer (BOT) mode could not raise debt, as banks became cautious. Many such projects had aggressive bids by project developers.


Some projects which sought bids last year, saw lack of interest from developers as well. “Almost 10 road projects worth Rs.14,800 crore received no bids or witnessed bidding cancellation in 2012-13,” said CARE Research.


However, slow execution of highway projects, might see a pick-up this year. “The execution of already awarded road projects will improve in FY14. The upcoming elections are expected to expedite the execution of road projects in this fiscal. Also, the recent judgment by the Supreme Court, on delinking environment clearance from forest clearance will provide some fillip to the project execution,” the report said. According to estimates, road length of about 2,700 kms would be constructed in 2013-14.


While NHAI’s programme might be slower in the current financial year, state government project awards have picked up pace. The report believes that the annual investment will grow at 16 per cent in the Twelfth Five Year Plan.



Cos may shy away from Delhi-Jaipur Eway if land not acquired

August 7, 2013

Press Trust of India  |   

Unless a major portion of the land is handed over, financial institutions could shy away from funding the project

Unless a major portion of the land is handed over in the construction of the proposed Delhi- Jaipur expressway, financial institutions could shy away from funding the project, Road Minister Oscar Fernandes has said.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) plan to build an expressway, at an estimated cost of Rs 14,000 crore, to the Pink City with the aim of decongesting the journey.

“Delhi-Jaipur Expressway — the work on this project is on, but unless 60% of the land is not handed over, the work cannot start because the financial institution will not lend money,” Fernandes told PTI.

However, the Minister did not elaborate on the matter any further.

He said, “The work is in progress on some stretches but at some places land acquisition is required and on those stretches it cannot be undertaken unless land is acquired.”

The starting point in Delhi for the expressway, in all probability, would be the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, in 2006-07, planned to construct 10 expressways but progress could be made only in two, namely Delhi-Jaipur and Delhi-Chandigarh.

However, the Delhi to Chandigarh expressway may now be re-aligned from Delhi to Ludhiana with a link to Chandigarh.

This has been proposed mainly to cater to the heavy traffic on the Delhi-Ludhiana National Highway.

The government had accorded approval for building 1,000 km of expressways in the country in October, 2011.

The government will build seven expressways under the flagship highways building programme NHDP (National Highway Development Programme) VI.

The remaining five projects are – 400 km Vadodara-Mumbai, 66 km Delhi-Meerut, Delhi-Agra, 277 km Bangalore-Chennai and 334 km Kolkata-Dhanbad.

13 road projects to be awarded under OMT basis

August 7, 2013

 The government has identified 13 road projects of over 1,800 km length that would be build on the operate-maintain-transfer basis during the 12th Plan period (2012-17).

Under OMT (operate-maintain-transfer) concept, six projects or packages measuring 963 km have been awarded and four measuring 720 km are in the bidding stage, an official in the Road Ministry said.

“We have identified 13 more such packages about 1,839 km to be developed under the same (OMT) model,” he said.

The government has identified 60 new locations for development as wayside amenities on highways.

These amenities include parking lots, restaurants, toilets, first-aid centres, telephone booths, petrol pumps, kiosks for sale of miscellaneous items and landscaping.

At present amenities at six locations have functional and work is on at other locations, he said.

Approximately, 3800 km of completed 4-laned highways constructed under various NHDP (National Highway Development Programme) are under maintenance.

Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has set a target of covering a length of 8800 km under NHDP next year (2012-13).

The allocation of the Ministry has been enhanced by 14% to Rs 25,360 crore in 2012-13.



Road construction takes twice time in NE: Union Transport secretary

August 5, 2013

By PTI |

Road construction takes twice time in NE: Union Transport secretary

(Road construction takes twice time in NE: Union Transport secretary)
GUWAHATI: The implementation of road and infrastructure projects in North-East has been slow and the speed of completion has been almost half than the national average, the Union transport secretary said today.”North East takes twice the time to complete a project than the national average,” Road, Transport and Highways Secretary ,Vijay Chhibber told reporters here.

Road, Transport and Highways Minister Oscar Fernandes and senior officials from the ministry today held a review meeting of the road projects in North East with chief ministers and representatives of the states from the region.

“Land acquisition and forest clearance are the main issues in implementing the projects. We have the money, but we are getting stuck at implementation,” Chhibber said.

“Many state PWDs are not up to the mark in implementing the projects. Pre-construction activities are taking too much time in this region,” he added.

The Ministry is implementing an ambitious Special Accelerated Road Development Programme (SARDP-NE) to develop road network in this region, aiming to provide connectivity to all the district headquarters.

The two-phased programme, including Arunachal Package, covers about 10,141 km.

The phase A of SARDP-NE, including Arunachal Package, covers 6,418 km and is estimated to incur an investment of Rs 33,688 crore during the 12th Five-Year Plan. The phase B is in conceptual stage.

Out of that, 2,000 km is planned for the current fiscal at an investment of Rs 3,100 crore, Chhibber said.

So far, about 1,000 km have been completed and the entire project is targeted for completion by June, 2016.

The project is being executed by the state PWDs, Border Roads Organisation, National Highways Authority of India and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.


Road Ministry sets target to complete Rs 34K Cr projects in NE by 2016

August 5, 2013

By PTI |

NEW DELHI: Government has set a target to complete Rs 33,688 crore projects under Special Accelerated Road Development Programme by June 2016 to improve infrastructure in the country’s North Eastern region.

“The phase A of SARDP-NE including Arunachal Package covers 6,418 km at an estimated cost of Rs 33,688 crore… The project is targeted for completion by June, 2016,” according to the Road Transport and Highways (RTH) Ministry.

The projects are being executed by the States Public Work Departments, Border Roads Organisation (BRO), National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

SARDP is Special Accelerated Road Development Programme. So far, about 1,180 km have been completed, as per the Ministry, which said it targets to award projects in a total length of about 2,000 km and achieve completion in 550 km length during 2013-14.

The Phase B of the SARDP is at a conceptual stage, as per the Ministry.

The programme envisages providing road connectivity to all the district headquarters in the north eastern region by minimum 2-lane highway standards apart from providing road connectivity to backward and remote areas, areas of strategic importance and neighbouring countries.

RTH Minister Oscar Fernandes and Secretary Vijay Chhiber last week reviewed the progress of projects in presence of Chief Ministers of the states. They asked officials to expedite progress and find ways to speed up implementation of the projects.

The Minister said the government was serious about developing infrastructure and would carry out feasibility study for the newly declared NH-127 B. This will connect Srirampur to Phulbari via Dhubri including construction of a bridge over river Brahmaputra.

It will also invite Request for Qualification (RFQ) for widening NH-37 between Numaligarh – Jorhat – Demow – Dibrugarh to 4-lane standards on BOT ( Annuity) basis besides work on other projects. Chhibber emphasised that government is committed to accelerated development of infrastructure in the country in general and in the North East Region in particular. The developments come in the wake of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reviewing infrastructure projects in the North East Region in a meeting held on July 18. An Empowered Group of Ministers and a committee under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary have also been constituted to quickly find solutions for outstanding issues impeding the progress of projects.



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