October 28, 2014
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Roads infrastructure is at murky stage with current logjams in projects. It is a tough road ahead for the newly-formed government as it has to put in place correct policies and reforms to ease the situation.Road sector is crucial for economic growth. Realizing this, the BJP-led government is giving priority to development of road transportation.Business leaders attribute the slack in this sector to lack of political will,which didn’t allow policies to take off in recent past.
The Indian road sector continues to face multiple challenges this financial year with high interest rates, sluggishness in awarding road contracts, reduced availability of funds, slowdown in execution, and increased competitive intensity.However, many projects awarded over the last one year are hanging ire because of delay in land acquisition, clearances, and financial closure.Expectations are fairly high from the Narendra Modi-led government, which won a clear majority in the elections. After a few days of becoming Prime Minister, he said, “A nation that gives impetus to infrastructure, be it roads, rail,airport, that is where chances of development increase. We have to take ownership to build a strong nation.” Business sentiments are improving and corrective actions are being taken to lift the sector from the prolonged sluggishness.
The public-private-partnership (PPP) model of awarding road projects has proved to be a complete failure in India, leading to a dip in road construction to a mere 3 km a day. Challenges are many – overall economic downturn, lack of equity in the market, difficulty in arranging debt, highly-leveraged balance sheets for highways developers and land acquisition, approval and clearance- related issues. Blaming the UPA regime for the present situation, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said the previous government awarded projects without acquiring even 10 per cent of land, which resulted in delays and cost overruns. In a major policy shift, the NDA government has decided to implement projects on Engineering Procurement and Construction(EPC) mode.
At present, 437 projects, entailing an investment of around `21 lakh crore, are delayed due to various issues across infrastructure sector.
Around 260 road projects worth`60,000 crore are stuck, owing to clearances and approvals. All efforts are being made to club road transport and railway ministries for faster implementation of projects. Also in an important decision, the process of clearing road bridges has been simplified with online application. The NHAI would bear construction and maintenance costs of the projects. Some of the decisions are:
▪ MoEF to allow state governments to give permission for sand mining up to 20 hectare as against the existing norm of 5 hectare
▪ State government and regional office MoEF will be allowed to clear linear projects, involving forest land up to 40 hectare
▪ National Board of Wild Life approves projects, falling within 5-10 km radius of various sanctuaries
▪ Railways to standardize ROB & RUB designs & to put the mechanism online
The NHAI board has given in principle approval for creation of a body, Asset Reconstruction Company, which would try to make stalled and non-commercially viable projects feasible. Indian Banker’s Association has already given its consent as most of the roads are turning non- performing assets (NPA). The entity would have two options: Either to take over an entire project, according to the clause of the concession agreement, or complete a small portion of the delayed work. This is a welcome move as it will help improve the situation in the cash-starved sector. There are numerous disputes, involving arbitration cases amounting to `26,556 crore investments between developers and NHAI. The NHAI has so far settled `10,550-crore projects with concessionaires. At least 49 pending claims, involving 26 contractors, has been cleared.
For ending corruption, the Amendment in Motor Vehicle Act is proposed in next session of parliament. Some of these changes would be based on best practices of the world like e-governance. The RTOs would be linked to e-governance to bring transparency in the system, plagued by malpractices.
The government would have to work on a policy framework to assure at least 16 per cent internal rate of return for infrastructure projects. This would safeguard developers from foreign exchange fluctuations and boost investment in the sector.India has to soon embark on the next wave of economic growth, which will encompass some fundamental shifts in growth model as well as larger and bigger social reach to beneit its vast population. Being one of the fastest growing economies of the world requires physical infrastructure facilities to continue the pace of development process. The new government at the Centre has to build and expand its key infrastructure to global standards and road sector plays an important role in it.
Prerna Singh :,Sr.Analyst, Roads Infrastructure,Infraline Energy
August 5, 2014
Hindustan Times (Lucknow)
CUT THE PRACTICE OUT Gaps in road dividers are a blessing in disguise for motorists looking for a cut-short distance ride. But this practice leads to major traffic jams for most part of the day
LUCKNOW: Ineffective traffic management, poor road sense among people and unnecessary cuts in dividers together make a perfect recipe for chaos on city roads.
The authorities had constructed a permanent divider at this crossing to ease out traffic. But, last month, the divider was removed to facilitate a VIP. Now the crossing is again witnessing traffic snarls, as people coming from Sikander Bagh try to enter through the cut.
While these ‘openings’ are a blessing in disguise for motorists seeking to cut short their travel distance, the practice is proving to be a hindrance to the free movement of other commuters.
HT takes a look at some crossings in the state capital that suffer from daily chaos.
GOKHALE MARG CROSSING
The authorities had constructed a permanent divider at this crossing to ease out traffic. As a result there was no chaos here for some time. Even locals welcomed the move despite having to travel the extra distance (driving up to Sikander Bagh crossing) to reach Nishatganj.
However last month, the divider was removed to facilitate some VIP who resides in Gokhale Marg. And now the crossing is again witnessing traffic snarls, as people coming from Sikander Bagh try to enter Gokhale Marg through the cut, which remained blocked for a year or so.
GOMTI NAGAR (VIBHUTI KHAND) FLYOVER
Those commuting on this stretch going towards the Mithaiwala crossing have developed a habit of taking a short cut through the one-way lane on the wrong side. This opening is meant only for the traffic headed towards Lohia Park.
“People are not ready to go a little distance to reach their destination and as a result there is traffic problem. Rows of vehicles can be seen stranded on the flyover because of this. The authorities have also failed to act strictly against the defaulters. The problem gets worse during office hours,” says Sneha Singh, a daily commuter on the road.
METRO HOSPITAL STRETCH
Initially, there was no opening in the divider here and traffic flow remained streamlined. But now the barricades have been removed, which has led to problems for commuters.
The local administration had in the past introduced one-way traffic system on this stretch. But due to poor implementation, the system died soon after it was introduced. The lenient attitude of the civic body towards shopkeepers also took a toll on the system.
The one-way traffic system was introduced to prevent traffic jams in the vicinity. Though authorities claimed to devise strategic plans to overcome the problem, no action has been taken till date. Due to increasing vehicular population and mushrooming shopping complexes, the parking problem worsens during school hours and in the evening.
The only proper parking facility available in the area is the underground lot at Jhandewala Park. “Only those driving fourwheelers use it. Two-wheelers are often parked along the roadside, which creates problems,” said Sunil, shopkeeper in Aminabad market.
“The civic body kept on passing maps of multi-storey commercial units without taking note of parking space. As per the rules, it is mandatory to leave adequate space for parking in commercial complexes,” he rued.
August 5, 2014
Hindustan Times (Delhi)
Atul Mathur ■
SEELAMPUR The stretch between Shahdara and Seelampur is flanked by one of the most densely populated colonies. Traffic here is a free-for-all.
NEW DELHI: Flanked by one of the most densely populated parts of the city, a stretch of Grand Trunk Road (GT Road) — between Shahdara flyover and Shastri Park — is probably the most congested roads in northeast Delhi.
With bicycles, cars, trucks, horse carts, rickshaws and pedestrians all jostling for space, the road is a nightmare for motorists and pedestrians alike. The stretch also shows how flyovers and elevated roads alone cannot ensure the smooth movement of traffic.
The stretch serves as a gateway to one of the most congested residential areas in the Capital and is one of the most vital links between northeast Delhi and central and north Delhi.
The public works department had built a new bridge on the Yamuna, just ahead of the Commonwealth Games in 2010, connecting colonies south of GT Road with central Delhi. It took a lot of traffic away from the stretch yet the traffic volume on GT Road does not seem to have diminished. Apart from the local commuters, the road caters to a huge volume of inter-state traffic between Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, especially commercial vehicles than run almost round-the-clock. A two-kilometre long flyover over Shahdara, a grade separator at Welcome and single carriageway flyover at Seelampur have collectively failed to solve the traffic mess on this road. Adding to the chaos is the construction of the elevated section of Delhi Metro’s longest line between Majlis Park and Shiv Vihar.
The traffic mess begins at Jhilmil but it compounds manifold as soon as one crosses Shahdara flyover. The grade separator, opposite Welcome Metro station, remains choc-a-bloc with vehicles during rush hour.
Delhi Metro has taken over a large portion of road and has barricaded it to carry out the construction of piers for its elevated section. The five-lane traffic — three lanes coming from the flyover and two-lane on the slip road — gets squeezed into two here creating a bottleneck.
“This is a major problem point. Buses, tempos, two-wheelers, bicycles and cars all try to get ahead of each other, resulting in jams,” said Gopal Sharma, a resident of Shahdara.
The problem of indiscipline on road is not just confined to this point. Drive another 200 metres and you are welcomed by scores of cars, two-wheelers, cyclists and pedestrians leisurely crossing the road even when the traffic light for straight-moving motorists is green.
“Just before the traffic signal, there is a U-turn under the Seelampur flyover which is used by people going towards Old Seelampur — located on the left of the road. In the absence of any traffic cops, the traffic going towards Old Seelampur moves across the road, causing snarls,” said Anoop Das, a government employee.
Just a 100 metres ahead, there is a traffic light which is actually a free-forall point. Scores of pedestrians, cyclists, and rickshaws coming from Jafrabad continue to cross the road even when the traffic light for straight-moving traffic is green. Though there are traffic policemen deployed at the intersection, they rarely intervene.
“It is simply bad planning. Despite the heavy movement of vehicles and pedestrians here, the government has built a single carriageway flyover that carries Shahdara-bound vehicular traffic coming from Shastri Park side. The traffic going in the other direction is obstructed by pedestrians and rickshaws. The government should have constructed a double lane flyover and should have also built and integrated cycle track and pedestrian facility to ensure seamless movement of traffic,” said Sharma.
A PWD official said plans are afoot to build another flyover that will run parallel to the existing one. “A consultant has been hired to suggest the design and how different types of traffic can be segregated. We are taking up this project on priority,” the official said.
Illegal parked auto-rickshaws and cycle rickshaws and mini and DTC buses picking and dropping passengers right in the middle of the road opposite Seelampur Mall as well as near Jafrabad on the road going in other direction also causes traffic jam. “We have taken up the issue of buses stopping in middle of the road with DTC officials several times. But nothing has been done,” a traffic police official said.
July 30, 2014
Tribune News Service
Gurgaon motorists, it seems, are on the wrong side of the law, and the road! Steering clear of the traffic rules, most motorists in the “premier” city believe in driving on the wrong side of the road. On an average, more than a 2,000 motorists are challaned for the offence per month.
As the traffic regulation and road safety case came up for resumed hearing before the Punjab and Haryana High Court today, Justice Rajive Bhalla was told that 17,000 challans were issued for the offence from January 1 to July 10 this year.
Taking note of the assertion, Justice Bhalla observed the data was an indicator of the tendency to drive on the wrong side. “If 17,000 challans were issued, another 50,000 may not have been caught,” he observed. “All this shows that the entire city was driving on the wrong side.”
The judge said something was amiss in the policing, the roads, the road markings or the people. Not issuing challans for not wearing helmets and seat belts did not escape Justice Bhalla’s attention. After scanning the data, he observed that figures failed to indicate challaning for both the offences.
He said putting on helmets on seeing the traffic policemen was the norm in Gurgaon, as the authorities concerned were yet to apply brakes to the violations. Updates on the installation of CCTV cameras at strategic points were also sought.
Justice Bhalla had earlier asked Haryana to come out with a traffic management plan for Gurgaon. The High Court has zeroed in on Gurgaon in Haryana and Amritsar in Punjab as benchmarks. The directions issued for the two cities would eventually be made applicable to other cities of the two states after testing their efficacy. Justice Bhalla has already made it clear that the court wanted the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act be complied with in letter and spirit to ensure road safety.
The judge had also taken note of the fact that the authorities concerned in Gurgaon had not moved much beyond issuing challans to the traffic violators; and had directed the deputy commissioner “to ensure the vehicles are parked in the earmarked parking, whether within or outside public and private buildings, markets, malls and offices”.
July 30, 2014
Many expressed discontent over paying toll at existing location
A new toll plaza under construction at Vagaikulam on NH 7 A (Tuticorin-Palayamkottai Bypass Road) will be ready in a month, says NHAI Project Director.
After discontent started brewing among heavy vehicle users over paying toll at the existing plaza at Thattaparai junction on Palayamkottai Road, the toll plaza was being shifted to Vagaikulam.
The plaza comprising six toll collection counters with approaching lanes and other infrastructure facilities was being constructed at a cost of Rs.1.4 crore, K. Thangavel, Project Director, NHAI, Madurai, who is in-charge of Tirunelveli, told The Hindu on Tuesday.
He said bhoomi puja for the toll plaza was performed on May 1 and works started immediately. Since local truck operators and other vehicle drivers registered in Tuticorin were reluctant to pay the toll after demanding the shifting of the plaza beyond Vagaikulam airport approach road, the toll agency withdrew from collecting toll.
The toll plaza is a key component of the 47.2-kilometre port connectivity project, which commenced in May 2010 on NH 7A. The toll collection was resumed here from May 1 this year after a gap of 10 months.
The Project Director said the revised toll fee notifications were awaited. Communiqué on this special purpose vehicle project, a joint venture of V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust, Tuticorin and the NHAI, had already been forwarded to the NHAI, New Delhi. Once the project was completed, the notification would be implemented at the new toll plaza.
The 47-km-long four-lane road project from the port to Palayamkottai commenced in May 2010. After completing the work, the project contractor collected toll initially in April 2013.
After a scuffle between road users and toll staff in June 2013, personnel deployed at the counters left their jobs fearing risk of assault.
A lorry owners’ association here claimed that around 400 locally registered lorry operators had been carrying essential goods, including water, vegetables and salt to 11 villages around the toll plaza. These heavy vehicles would have to go through this toll plaza at frequent intervals. So, the agency should exempt these local operators from paying the toll, they sought.
They also agreed to pay the toll once the plaza was shifted to Vagaikulam.
Subsequently, a few persons, including MDMK district secretary S. Joel from Tuticorin, filed writ petitions against toll collection and demanded the shifting of the toll plaza to a new location beyond Vagaikulam Airport.
The toll collection once again came to a halt since the case was pending. Based on the NHAI’s submission that the toll plaza would be shifted to Vagaikulam, Justices V. Ramasubramanian and V.M. Velumani of Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on April 7, 2014 disposed of the writ petitions filed by five persons.
The court directed the NHAI to shift the toll plaza within four months, Mr. Thangavel said.
July 25, 2014
Summary:Around 300 projects to be up for bids in 5-10 years.The government will not bid out any highway project without acquiring at least 80 per cent land for it. Around 300 road projects are to be bid out within the next 5-10 years after securing all necessary regulatory clearances, the country’s road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday.
Addressing a public-private partnership summit organised by Ficci, Gadkari said the government has decided not to float any tender without acquiring adequate amount of land for executing a project. To fast-track tendering and execution of projects, Gadkari said officials of concerned ministries need to be more responsive and work at a brisk pace.
“Time is the most important thing in infrastructure and business and delays cost the country to the tune of Rs 15 crore a day. Files are kept pending for months. I have asked highways officials to fast-track decisions and requested the Prime Minister to issue directions to all officials,” he said. The minister said he would be holding a meeting every month as per Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s direction to ensure timely clearances.
Gadkari asked the developers to refrain from aggressive bidding for projects as had happened in the past when companies shouldered projects without due clearances and those projects failed to take off despite financial closures.
Sharing the dais with Gadkari, finance secretary Arvind Mayaram said the government is working on a sophisticated and flexible framework for the public-private partnership model to boost infrastructure development.
The flexibility is imperative to factor in changes in the circumstances that run over a period of 25-30 years, he contended. Mayaram reminded that the private sector has to share the risk associated with PPP projects, as the government alone cannot bear the entire responsibility.
“There is a need to see whether we can look at developing a framework which is going to decide what stress is, who is responsible for stress, what is causing the stress and how we deal with them?,” he said.
The proposed 3P India institution will look at issues relating to regulation, financing structures, stress in project, management of contract over a period of time and also issues relating to capacity building both in public and private sector, Mayaram said. “It will be a unique and powerful institution which will rejuvenate the entire universe of PPP which seems to be slowing down at the moment,” he added.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley, in his Budget speech, had proposed setting up of an institution to provide support to mainstream PPPs called 3P India with a corpus of Rs 500 crore.
Source:The Indian express
July 17, 2014
PRATIM RANJAN BOSE
Rail-road link is under construction on Assam-Arunachal border
On the southern bank at Bogibeel, near Dibrugarh, a 125-metre long steel frame – weighing nearly half of a coal laden cargo train – is slowly, inch-by-inch, pulled out of a huge fabrication shed. It is now resting on the first pillar deck on the water.
With time, it will be pulled further north to make way for a total of 41 such modules to be placed on the pillars. When welded together, these frames will form the bridge, with two railway tracks on the lower deck and a three-lane highway overhead.
The project has been under construction for the last 17 years and is of huge strategic importance to the Indian Army.
“We are now confident to complete the project by end-2016,” says a senior official of the executing authority, North East Frontier Railway. That is nearly two years behind the last revised deadline of March 2015. Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), which is creating the super structure, echoes the railways version. However, despite repeated efforts no confirmation was available from Gammon India that is engaged in the building the pillars since 2008.
Available information suggests out of 42 pillars, 12 are far from complete and three are semi-finished. Considering the narrow weather window (November-April) it might be a tall task for the company to complete the residual work in the next two years. Railways, however, claim that 90 per cent of pillar work is complete.
Assam Accord proposal
Bogibeel was one of the major promises made by the India government during the peace accord with the separatist forces in Assam on August 15, 1985. The proposal was cleared by the HD Deve Gowda government in 1997. But it took the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government to start construction in 2002.
The idea was to link NH-52 at Dhameji, on the Arunachal border, on the northern bank of Brahmaputra with NH-52-B in Dibrugarh; convert the metre gauge rail links in the north into broad gauge and connect it with existing rail link at Dibrugarh.
While the bridge was estimated to cost ₹1,767 crore (2002); more investments were committed by Railways and the Assam Government in creating requisite rail and road network on either side. To speed up implementation, the bridge was declared as ‘project of national importance” in 2007. The prolonged delay escalated costs by at least three times. The bridge, if completed in end 2016, will cost nearly ₹5,000 crore.
The writer visited the project site at Bogibeel at the invitation of HCC
July 11, 2014
The budget stepped up focus on the highways and expressways with an eye to improve the supply chain as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley set aside Rs 37,880 crore for the road transport sector. The minister also said NHAI shall set aside Rs 500 crore for project preparation.”The sector (roads) had taken shape from 1998-2004 under NDA-I. The sector again needs huge amount of investment along with de-bottlenecking from maze of clearances,” Jaitley said. The proposed investment in NHAI and state roads also includes Rs 3,000 crore for the northeast.Jaitley set a target of 8,500 km of highway construction during this financial year. He said work would begin on select expressways along with development of industrial corridors.
The allocation under the plan head is about 21% higher than what road transport ministry and all other agencies including NHAI could spend in 2013-14. The step is expected to speed up construction and award of road projects through government funding.
In the last two financial years, the sector went through a bad patch as private sector investment declined significantly and over 20 projects failed to get bids.
Road transport minister Nitin Gadkari said his ministry will move a proposal to be able to clear projects up to Rs 1,000 crore against the present limit of Rs 500 crore.
July 10, 2014
Crores of rupees also earmarked for improving water supply and make the Yamuna navigable
Delhi’s infrastructure is expected to get a fillip with the Centre planning to allocate almost Rs.4,000 crore for the development of Ring Road here. Funds running into crores of rupees have also been earmarked for improving the water supply and make the Yamuna navigable.Sources said the plans were revealed by the Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari at a workshop organised for Bharatiya Janata Party municipal councillors here on Tuesday. A senior South Corporation leader said the funds for development of Ring Road will be allotted if plans are approved to create a corridor that will decongest the city’s roads.
“Mr. Gadkari asked us to study the problems affecting the city, keeping in mind the next 10 years to 15 years. He asked us to keep our approach development-oriented and make representations to the Ministers concerned about issues,” said a participant, adding that it was specifically mentioned there were no dearth of funds to improve the infrastructure in the city.
Further, the councillors were asked to come up with a vision document to enhance the water supply situation. Plans to set up a “building architecture approving authority”, which will work independently of the Municipal Corporations to sanction building plans, were also discussed.
“This authority will be pulled up and its licence revoked in the event of an untoward incident. This was just one of the ideas discussed. Nothing has been finalised,” he added.
Mr. Gadkari also directed the councillors to improve the functioning of the three civic bodies.
“We were told to focus on providing the best services to the people, get rid of corruption and create a blueprint for making Delhi into a world class city,” said a councillor.
Regarding the Yamuna, the councillors discussed setting up two barrages that will make the river navigable, and come up with ways to treat sewage water, which can be diverted for irrigation purposes for the city’s parks and gardens.
April 16, 2014
NEW WAY TO SAVE ENERGY
London: A first glow-in-the-dark ‘smart highway’ spanning 500 metres has been developed to replace street lights in the Netherlands. It is the first time “glowing lines” technology has been piloted on the road and can be seen on the N329 in Oss, approximately 100km south east of Amsterdam.
Designer and innovator Daan Roosegaarde teamed up with Dutch civil engineering firm Heijmans to developed the technology. The glow-in-the-dark markings are made of paint that contains “photo-luminising” powder which charges up in the daytime and slowly releases a green glow at night, ‘BBC News’ reported.
Once the paint has absorbed daylight it can glow for up to eight hours in the dark, doing away with the need for street lights. The innovative technology will be officially launched later this month and if successful could trigger a mass switch-off of lighting across the country’s road network, potentially saving the nation millions of Euros.
Heijmans said that the glow in the dark technology is “a sustainable alternative to places where no conventional lighting is present”.
Roosegaarde’s past projects have included a dance floor with built-in discolights powered by dancers’ foot movements, and a dress that becomes see-through when the wearer is aroused. In the UK, engineers have developed water-resistant, spray-on coating that makes roads glow in the dark by absorbing UV light during the day and releasing it at night. The coating can adapt to the lighting conditions in its surroundings to glow accordingly. AGENCIES