October 18, 2013
AHMEDABAD: A PIL was filed in Gujarat high court seeking that the government be directed to improve the condition of roads in the city and take action against contractors for sub-standard work. The PIL also demanded immediate cancellation of work orders given to contractors whose poor construction standards have been exposed.A city-based group – Ahmedabad Traffic Consultative Committee – filed this PIL through advocate Parth Contractor, and sought the HC’s intervention to address “the never-ending woes of potholes and cave-ins” in the city. He argued that construction and resurfacing of roads are required to be monitored to maintain quality. He also contended that contractors, who have been held as defaults in the past, are being re-awarded resurfacing contracts and this results in a wastage of public money.
The PIL called on the Roads and Buildings Department to perform its statutory duty so the public doesn’t suffer poor road conditions.
It demanded penal action against contractors who use sub-standard materials. It also requested the court to compel authorities to publicize details of contractors, values of contracts and project durations to help bring transparency and accountability to the tendering process.
The PIL also demanded that a third-party consultant be required to monitor and examine quality of newly laid and resurfaced roads in the city.
The petitioner cited examples of dilapidated roads in city areas – the newly constructed flyover in Ellisbridge, the patch from Manav Mandir to Helmet circle etc – to highlight how recently resurfaced roads deteriorate in brief spells of rain. The PIL contended that malpractices of adhering to construction norms continue because authorities take a soft approach towards defaulting contractors, and no penal action is taken.
The court asked the petitioner to give copies of the petition to all concerned parties and scheduled a further hearing for next week.
August 8, 2013
Ahmedabad: Gujarat Government’s much anticipated Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar metro rail project is close to veracity with the phase-1 is ready for completion in 2017.
Metrolink Express for Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad (MEGA) a state-formed special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the project execution, expressed that the first phase of the Rs19,000-crore metro rail project between Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar, spanning over 83 km will be commissioned by 2017.
According to an official at MEGA, Request for Proposals (RFPs) of all major systems and procurement have already been floated and tenders related to civil construction is under finalization process. “The first phase of the project will be completed in 2017 and the rest in 2021,” he said.
EPC World News Bureau
April 12, 2013
Drivers on the Ahmedabad-Mumbai National Highway will soon be able to use a common electronic tag on their vehicles to pay tolls while crossing the six toll plazas. The plazas are operated by two different road developers — Larsen and Toubro, and IRB Infrastructure. Each toll plaza will have two lanes with electronic-readers to capture data from tagged vehicles.
This is the first time the Indian Highways Management Company Ltd (IHMCL), a firm set up to implement the inter-operable electronic tolling system across the national highway network, will be undertaking the job. IHMCL is jointly owned by highway developers, financial institutions and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
Trial runs on the stretch are already on, for which ICICI Bank is providing the back-end clearing-house mechanism and has tied up with US-based firm TollPlus for technical knowhow.
Having an inter-operable system requires a clearing-house mechanism, so the toll amount debited from users can go to the different firms that operate the particular stretch.
India’s 80,000 km national highway network is dotted with over 200 toll plazas, about half of which are now handled by different highway developers, and the rest by NHAI.
A common electronic highway toll payment mechanism has been Government’s long-time goal, and NHAI had started work on such a project close to eight years ago. But the project was first marred by a war among vendors with competing technology standards. This ended with recommendations by a committee headed by Nandan Nilekani in 2010. Subsequently, attempts to start the project did not make much headway due to lack of an institutional mechanism, an issue expected to be resolved with the formation of IHMCL.
IHMCL was formed in late 2012 with 25 per cent equity from NHAI, 50 per cent from highway developers and 25 per cent from financial institutions.
As of now, the 22 highway developers, also slated to be equity-holders, include L&T IDPL, IRB Infrastructure, Oriental Structural Engineers, Shapoorji Pallonji Infrastructure, SREI Infrastructure Finance, GMR Highways, Reliance Infrastructure, Ashoka Buildcon, HCC, Sadbhav Engineering, TRIL Roads, Gammon India and Uniquest Infra Ventures.
Financial institutions expected to take a stake in the project are ICICI Bank, IDFC Projects, Macquarie, Union Bank of India and IDBI Infrafin.
“It is a good collaborative effort. Somebody had to take a step towards creating a clearing-house and connecting all the toll plazas,” said Athar Shahab, CEO, Uniquest Infra, a joint venture between Malaysian Government’s investment arm Khazanah and IDFC.
Calling this a good beginning, K.K. Mohanty, Managing Director, Gammon Infrastructure, said his concern is about increasing public awareness so that people see the value in adopting electronic toll payment.
October 25, 2007
NEW DELHI, OCTober 24: In a move that is likely to benefit consumers just as much as it would India’s premier road development authority, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has said that expressways scheduled to come up under the National Highway Development Project (NHDP) would follow a ‘closed tolling’ system, which would charge users a toll calculated on the basis of distance travelled.
Under the format, access to every entry and exit point of these expressways would be controlled allowing the road operator to monitor distance traversed and accordingly charge the levy. “All the expressways which will come up under phase VI of NHDP will be implemented on a closed tolling format as these will be access-controlled roads,” said a senior NHAI official. “While users will have to pay only for the stretch of the road used, the road developer will also benefit from improved revenue collections from toll.”
According to the official, at present a significant number of expressway users — especially local ones — skirt the levy by entering and exiting expressways before coming to a toll point. Hence, collection efficiency on many of these ‘open-toll’ highways and expressways ranges between 70-80 per cent.
The 1,000 km of Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) toll expressways envisaged to come up under the closed toll format, at an indicative cost of Rs 15,000 crore, would not only help private developers maximise earnings but also induce more customers to ply through them by enabling them to pay a more ‘realistic’ toll, says the official.
One of the first expressways slated to come up under the format is Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation’s 135-km Kundli-Manesar-Palwal (KMP) expressway, also known as the Western Peripheral Expressway. The Rs 1,800 crore expressway, the largest in the country, would provide a high-speed link between northern Haryana and its southern districts like Sonepat, Jhajjar, Gurgaon and Faridabad and sport hi-tech toll plazas at a number of points en-route.
“All entrances to the KMP expressway would be controlled and a ‘token’ — a smart card encoded with the issuing station’s information — would be provided to motorists at the time of entry into the system,” said Rafi Khan, general manager of DS Constructions, one of the concessionaires for the project. “The motorist can exit from any of the controlled locations and will be required to pay only for the distance travelled.”
A total of 10 such exit and entry points, including two main toll plazas at Kundli and Palwal, are planned on the expressway. With the closed tolling format in place, the developer expects to see 30,000 passenger car units roll on the road every day, with a projected robust growth of around 9-10 per cent every year once the project is completed in 2009.
With closed toll roads like the Ahmedabad-Vadodara expressway already operational and others like NHAI’s 134-km Eastern Peripheral Expressway in the offing, the stage seems set for a more consumer-centric toll system to become the norm on the country’s fast roads.
•Extension of 95-km Baroda-Ahmedabad expressway by 400 km to Mumbai