December 10, 2013
Express News Service : Pune,
THE 34-km stretch of Mumbai-Bangalore highway in the Pune city limits has seen 110 fatal accidents in the last three years claiming 111 lives. Most of these accidents have taken place at 20 severely accident-prone spots that have been identified by the traffic police in a study. A report has been sent to the National Highways Authorities of India, Pune, which looks after the highway.Out of these 111 victims, 43 were pedestrians, while 50 others were two-wheeler riders. DCP Vishwas Pandhare said, “We have conducted a study on the reasons for these accidents. It is clear that most of them are structural flaws. It has been observed that the NHAI has given contracts of these works to a contractor who has further delegated the work to sub-contractors. So there is no co-ordination in the work. We have sent our findings to NHAI and the contractor.”
Senior inspector Sanjay Bhambure of traffic control branch headed the study. He said, “At most of these spots there are some common flaws. For example there are breaks in the dividers which the two wheeler riders and pedestrians use for crossing the roads. At many spots service road of the highway merges with the main highway. There are no signage boards and flash lights. Protective railing is absent at many places. The trees on dividers have different heights and are absent at some places. There is acute shortage of pedestrian subways and over bridges.”
Pandhare added, “We have sent the report to the NHAI. We have given them a detailed list of structural changes that are must for the prevention of accidents. “The breaks that have been made on the dividers or medians are causing a lot of accidents. As these breaks are not in the NHAI plan, there are no signages. Bikers cross the highways at these breaks and are hit by speeding vehicles coming from both the sides. These breaks need to be sealed.”
Some of the 20 spots identified by the traffic police with the number of deaths that occured there are in last three years are: Katraj New Tunnel (6), Katraj Viaduct (9), Ambegaon Budruk (6), Manajinagar Narhe (10), Warje Bridge (7), Dukkar Khind, Chandani Chowk (2), Bandal Estate (7), HEMRL break (6), Sus Sutarwadi connecting road (7), Balewadi Sports Complex (6), Mula Nadi (4), Wakad Bridge (3), Indira College (3), Sai Petrol Pump (4), Gokul Hotel (3) and Rajmudra Hotel (3).
November 22, 2013
The survey of 25km stretch from Palappettty to Kuttippuram villlage was completed amid strong protest in the district.
The survey was started on November 12 under the strict directions of the high court. Though the National Highway action committee had blocked the survey on the first day itself, police arrested the protesters and allowed the revenue and National Highway officials to continue the survey.
The survey was started from Palappetty in Veliyankode village near Ponnani.
“So far we have completed the survey process in 25km and the survey in remaining 7 km until Kuttippuram will be completed in this division. There were protests from the local people in various parts of the highway. But we were able to continue it with the support of police,” said the surveyor P V Jayaraj. Rest of the NH stretch, from Kuttippuram to Kozhikode comes under Kozhikode division of National Highway. Total length of the NH 66 passing through the district is about 60km.
However, the National Highway Action Committee is planning to intensify the strike against the widening process. They are demanding the road widening to be limited in 30m width and it should not be constructed under build-operate-transfer format.
October 31, 2013
“Urban streets are related to urban sustainability. We are working with the civic body on developing the ‘Urban Street Design Guidelines’. These guidelines will serve as the base document for designers and decision makers,” said Shraddha Zende, programme coordinator, on Wednesday.
The guidelines will consider technical and physical aspects of the city. Many codes and case studies are being referred to. The road department, traffic police, Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited, NGOs and related authorities are being consulted to recommend street designs.
Team member Nikhil Mijar said the group has decided to involve people in the consultation process to understand their opinions and expectations. “A well-designed street is where small children and the old people feel safe to walk, where all road users get equitable rights of use. To bring about this change, it is important to know what people want and expect from the streets,” he said.
Dwaipayan Chakravarty, another team member for the project, said the group will also work on defining the road hierarchy according to usage and utility. “The city lacks planned development. So the group will try to categorise the roads as per the hierarchy based on its size, traffic movement, location and width. The categories like arterial roads, feeder corridors, local streets and special streets will help manage traffic and other activities on the road.”
What is road hierarchy?
It makes a difference between roads according to their function
At the top of the rung are arterial routes that carry high volumes of through traffic
Roads at the lower rung of the road hierarchy have importance at the local level, like access to local places and may have lesser vehicles
October 7, 2013
A smooth drive along the country-wide 80,000-km national highway network may be a given for Indians today. But, less than 20 years ago, the highway was just 34,000 km (1995).
Creation of a dedicated, non-lapsable funding mechanism in 1998-99 for building roads across the country by imposing a cess on petrol and diesel sales was one of the fundamental changes that helped chart a sharper growth path for roads in the two decades.
During this period, the national highway network has increased by over 40,000 km, which is more than 2.5 times the 14,000 km of national highways added in the preceding 40-year period of 1951-91.
NHDP – NETWORK APPROACH
“The thrust on the road sector in India improved significantly when the Government headed by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (in 1998) decided to adopt a network development approach for highway development and conceptualised the national highway development programme (NHDP),” said Deepak Dasgupta, former Chairman, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Dasgupta was the NHAI Chairman between 1998-2001/2, when the financing mechanism was finalised.
The NHDP focused on developing and strengthening roads connecting four metros – called the Golden Quadrilateral – and their diagonals – called the North South East West corridor. These trunks routes account for less than two per cent of India’s road network but carry almost 40 per cent of the total road traffic.
The Government also created a dedicated financing model for the road infrastructure. “The Government examined the road sector and created the backbone financing framework for highway development through non-lapsable cess on petrol and diesel, which was earmarked for building road infrastructure in country,” said Dasgupta. This mechanism helped NHAI to leverage the cess accruals to borrow money from multilateral agencies and the market.
NHAI was also strengthened as a body. “We had asked the Government to approve a programme and leave it to NHAI to award and implement it. This prevented NHAI from having to go to Cabinet for every project and wasting time in the process. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government did that,” said Dasgupta.
This power was undone by the UPA Government that assumed office in 2004. “Instead of allowing NHAI the freedom that was given earlier by the (NDA) Government and for which reason the NHAI Board was strengthened, the (UPA) Government took back most of the powers, including approving of cost estimates of individual projects, deciding their design, the mode of development for each project,” he said.
PRIVATE SECTOR ROLE
One of the mandates of NHAI was to promote private investment in the road sector. The UPA Government significantly pushed the role of private sector in building roads.
It did so by spending a large part of 2004-09, when its ally the DMK was holding Road Ministry portfolio, in deciding a common contract framework. It also devised a toll policy in 2008, which allowed for automatic increase in annual toll for private road developers along with inflation, a move which increased the confidence of investors subsequently. It also decided that all highway stretches will be bid out on BOT-toll basis first.
In the UPA-2 regime, which kicked off from 2009, a committee headed by Planning Commission Member B.K. Chaturvedi looked at the highway sector and sorted out policy-related issues for private investors.
All this did help the UPA-2 award a large number of highway contracts on BOT-toll basis till 2011-12, when almost 8,000 km of road contracts were awarded.
Another trend was private firms started making so much money from such projects that they offered money to NHAI to bag long-term rights to build a road stretch and collect tolls from them. But this push to increase private sector participation, through what is called public private partnership(PPP) model, is now seeing some cracks.
Private sector companies are sitting on road projects whose financials have turned awry on the back of soaring financing and material costs, while revenues have turned out to be lower as traffic growth slowed down. Efforts are on to plug such gaps as the UPA Government looks to turnkey mode to build highways.
Toll roads have gained wide acceptance as, people, by and large, have accepted the idea of paying user fees for using good, wide roads.
Prior to 1995, private firms could not retain toll revenues. In 1995, the NHAI Act was amended to permit them to develop, maintain, collect and retain toll charges from users of a road stretch for pre-decided time period.
Today, toll collection from users of national highways is over Rs 9,300 crore a year. Of this, 74 per cent goes to private road developers such as Larsen & Toubro, IL&FS Transportation Network Ltd, Reliance Infrastructure, IRB Infrastructure and Ashoka Buildcon. In June 2013, almost 14,000 km of national highways were being tolled.
But, road users are now becoming more demanding. Increasingly, people are questioning the idea of paying higher tolls every year without commensurate improvements in user experience.
Such concerns are forcing the UPA Government to relook toll rules, which appear tilted in favour of road developers.
While the Government has created a longer, wider network of highways, road safety is a parameter where the country has failed.
India has one of the largest road networks globally. It also has the highest number of road accident deaths.
Moreover, 35 per cent of total road accident deaths and 30 per cent of injuries happen on national highways, which account for only two per cent of the total road network. While road safety is not a function of road design alone, there are questions now on whether the Government attempts to cut costs – by reducing service lanes and underpasses on highways – are compromising road safety. “Private sector would want maximum returns on their investments. This compromises project design leading to sub-optimal road designs. In that context, BOT-Toll mode of building roads promotes under-designing of roads for saving money,” said Dasgupta.
Central Road Fund, 2000
The Government , under the Central Road Fund Act 2000, created a non-lapsable dedicated fund for National Highways Development Project by levying a cess on diesel and petrol sales.
Initially, the cess was at the rate of Re 1 per litre.
Subsequently, this was increased by Re 0.50 (that is, to Rs 1.5 per litre on petrol and diesel).
In 2012-13, over Rs 19,000 crore was allotted to CRF, more than three times the Rs 5,752 crore allotted in 2003-04.
From the cess of Rs 1.50 per litre: 50 per cent collected from diesel is for rural roads; the remaining 50 per cent from diesel and the entire cess on petrol are earmarked for: 57.5 per cent for National Highways; 12.5 per cent for road under or over bridges and safety works at unmanned railway crossings; and 30 per cent for development and maintenance of State roads.
An additional cess of Re 0.5 a litre levied on diesel and petrol from April 1, 2005 will be exclusively earmarked for National Highways.
September 13, 2013
Ajay Khape : Pune,
Overcrowding of roads by private vehicles and parking problems have prompted the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) to undertake a survey of parking trends on main city roads.
The city has been facing serious traffic problems owing to inefficient public transport system, forcing citizens to use private vehicles.
“The civic administration will carry out a survey of parking trends on main city roads. This data will help us solve various traffic and parking-related problems,” said Additional City Engineer Srinivas Bonala.
The survey would be carried out through a private agency, which will gather information on vehicles parked every hour during peak hours from 8 am to noon and 6 pm to 10 pm. The agency will also have to provide details of parking space on city roads. “Once the data is compiled, it will be easier to analyse the number of private vehicles on city roads. It will also help find whether there is sufficient parking space available on main roads,” said a civic officer.
He said the data will help the civic administration in framing a policy to address the traffic and parking issue.
MKCL to undertake online recruitment of civic employees
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) standing committee on Wednesday approved the proposal seeking appointment of Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Ltd (MKCL) to implement the online recruitment for the civic body. The civic administration had proposed that MKCL be allowed to carry out the recruitment of civic staff through its special online service. “The committee members felt the civic body should allow MKCL to operate for six months and assess their performance,” said Vishal Tambe, Chairperson, Standing Committee. He said MKCL will not carry out the recruitment Class I officers. As per the requirement, the civic body will float tenders after six months.
source - http://www.indianexpress.com
September 2, 2013
When asked which was the most problematic service or issue, about a third of the respondents across all income categories rated sanitation services as the worst, though the concern was highest in the lower-income settlements. This was followed by water supply, which was rated the worst by a higher proportion of respondents in the three lowest income brackets indicating the problems faced by them with regard to availability of water in their localities. This revealed the wide disparities in the provisioning of basic services in terms of both quality and quantity. A sizeable proportion also rated bad roads and safety as problems in their areas.
Children cited lack of open spaces to play and quality of education and schools as their most pressing problems. For the elderly, the greatest concern was lack of pension and income security. The men surveyed disliked the city’s poor sanitation, open sewers and drains and water supply the most, while women listed safety, alcoholism and transport hassles as the things they disliked the most in Delhi.
The survey revealed that vulnerable sections like women, elderly, scheduled castes and the uneducated are more dissatisfied, which ties in with the survey showing how poorer localities and weaker sections are more deprived of basic services, safety and security.