Road construction to move in tow with security forces

August 21, 2012

The most challenging of terrains for road construction might now turn somewhat friendlier. The government is timing implementation of road projects in the Northeast and areas hit by Left-wing extremism with the movement of security forces and on-sight monitoring in those areas. The move is aimed at building 9,000 km of roads across these areas, and the estimated funding for this is Rs 16,200 crore.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is mapping the security situation in areas hit by Left-wing extremism, which account for the majority of India’s mineral wealth. “Based on the presence of security forces, we are phasing out projects, so that the machinery is kept in a place with security cover. The workers, too, return to this place in the evening,” Road Transport and Highways Secretary A K Upadhyay told Business Standard. After a particular stretch being constructed, the next 10-km stretch, for instance, would be cleared from a security point of view, and the project would move in line with the movement of security forces.

The plan would also help involve contractors unwilling to work in these areas. “As things are very unpredictable in these areas, the industry has to doubly secure its workers by raising insurance premia,” said M Murli, director general of the National Highway Builders Federation.


In Left-wing extremism-hit areas, construction of 1,200 km of highways is expected to be completed this year. Of this, 476 km have already been completed. The project is part of a development plan in 34 districts across eight states. Here, 5,477 km of highways would be built at a cost of Rs 7,300 crore.

Coordination between local security officials and the ministry has been formalised. Earlier, this level of engagement between the entities was absent, said Upadhyay. Also, projects are being awarded in smaller packets to ensure the involvement of small and local contractors.

The funds allocated for the construction of 1,500 km of roads in the Northeast and areas hit by Left-wing extremism for this financial year stand at about Rs 3,500 crore, according to data provided by the ministry.

Though the construction target for the Northeast this financial year is just 300 km, implementing projects in that region is a challenge. Last year, 150 km of roads was constructed in the region. Of the total 3,723 km of sanctioned highway construction in the region, so far, only 904 km has been completed.

That the task is difficult is evident from the fact that just four projects are being carried out by private investment through a build-operate-transfer (BOT) annuity model, and two on the BOT toll model. Eighty eight districts in the Northeast are being covered under these projects, which are mostly funded by the government. “Since the problem in the Northeast is more serious than in areas affected by Left-wing extremism, an additional director general and three chief engineers would be stationed there to monitor the developments,” Upadhyay said.

In the Left-wing extremism-hit Bastar area in Chhattisgarh, contractors are hard to find, while in the Northeast region, there are problems in land acquisition and environmental clearances, and this has led to projects being stuck.

The industry feels the challenges go beyond providing security and land acquisition. Problems like protection money and ‘development funds’ remain a reality. “There are some unwritten rules, like reservation for locals in the workforce at the site. At times, people suddenly turn up at the time of wage distribution, despite not coming for work,” said an industry player, requesting anonymity. Murli said while mobilisation of locals in Left-wing extremism-hit areas was a challenge, the weather played a crucial role in the Northeast, where construction work could only be carried out during five to six months a year.


One comment on “Road construction to move in tow with security forces” Post your comment

  1. CHINNAKARUPPU on August 27th, 2012 4:04 pm

    I am Diploma in Civil Engineering Completed my Experience 5 years

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