CCTV cameras on govt. buses soon

August 7, 2014

Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy has said that a process to install Closed Circuit Television Cameras (CCTV cameras) on government buses to prevent possible crimes against women is on.

Nearly 500 busses of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) have been provided CCTV cameras and more buses belonging to other transport corporations of the State would be covered shortly.

He was speaking to presspersons at Gurmitkal town in Yadgir district on Wednesday after inaugurating a bus terminus there.

The bus terminus has come up at a cost of Rs. 2.10 crore in 2.07 acres of land. In view of lack of transportation in rural areas, where people are forced to use private vehicles, Mr. Reddy said that the department has taken action to operate more buses.


Officials have been asked to continue bus services in such areas notwithstanding the fact that it may cause up to 40 per cent loss in daily earnings.

He said that bus services would be increased during school hours to ensure that students did not suffer due to lack of transportation.

To a question, Mr. Reddy said that work on a new bus terminus at Surpur town will be taken up shortly.

Earlier, inaugurating the bus terminus at Gurmitkal, Mr. Reddy said that work on a new bus terminus in Saidapur in Yadgir taluk and a bus depot in Kembhavi in Surpur taluk would begin soon, as officials have prepared action plan.

More than 4,000 posts, including 3,091 drivers-cum-conductors, 500 mechanics and 489 clerks, remained vacant. A recruitment process to fill these posts will begin shortly, he added.

Mr. Reddy said that 100 new buses would be allotted to Yadgir division, and of these, eight buses will be run between Yadgir and Gurmitkal.

It is part of steps to prevent crimes against women


Source:The Hindu

six changes needed for better transportation

July 24, 2014

It is just a welcome coincidence that a single party majority government has come in the centre at the time when the country just laid out its National Transport Development Policy for the next 20 years. As per the policy, if India has to grow its GDP at 8-9%, it needs to increase its investment in infrastructure six times from current USD 45 billion to USD 250 billion by 2032. This translates increasing the investment in infrastructure from 5.8% of GDP (during 11th FYP) to 8% of GDP by the end of 2031-32
Investment of this scale would not only require significant government funding, but also building enabling environment to attract private capital, domestically as well as foreign. This would require government to take quick, planned and timely reforms across levels – policy, operational, institutional and capacity.
Urgent need for investment

According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2013-14 of World Economic Forum, India stands at 85th and 61st position in the global ranking of infrastructure and transport, respectively amongst group of 148 countries.

Since, investment in infrastructure sector, particularly transportation has multiplier effect on the economic growth; there is an urgent need for investment in these sectors to bring back economy on high growth trajectory. Hence, when the new government will table its first budget in July, 2014, it will have to strike balance between the prevailing inflation and long waiting reforms to remobilize funds in the transportation sector, which shall lay foundation for a long-term growth. For example in highways, there is an immediate need to rebalance the concession agreements, to move the struck projects and attract private sector interest in the upcoming projects.
Concept of revenue guarantees, as being used in some of the Latin American and developed countries, where government shares with private sector, both upside potential and downside risk of traffic, beyond a threshold, should be brought in to attract investor confidence and lender’s comfort.

At the same time it is important for NHAI, if it is moving to EPC model, to build its own pool of resources. For this purpose, fast tracking implementation of electronic toll collection to maximize toll revenues and raising funds through long-term bonds and capitalize its toll revenue earnings for interest and principal repayments, can be explored. In fact, India can learn from experience of Japanese Expressway Holding and Debt Repayment Agency, which used bond funds to develop expressways in Japan. These bonds were duly backed by government guarantees to provide security to bond subscriber.

Special Projects for Rural Development
To increase penetration in villages, particularly for effective implementation of food security, it is critical to continue fillip programs like Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY-II), which are critical for farm to market linkages and connectivity to rural growth centres.

An Integrated Transport System

Probably, it is right time for the government to think transport as an integrated system and all its components (rail, road, port and airways) should work in a holistic manner. Different modes of transport between two nodes should be developed based on the principles of demand-supply and balance between time and fuel cost. For instance, if time is not a constraint (non-perishable goods), goods can be transported using IWT or coastal shipping.To achieve this, coastal terminals at select ports and deeper stretches of the rivers (LAD) can be developed. For other routes, rail and road connectivity with ports should be enhanced on PPP basis.

Develop low-cost Airports

Similarly, low-cost airports in tier-II and tier-III cities can be developed which can be integrated with high speed rails at select stretches. This will provide faster connectivity to the entire country and thereby unlock growth potential .To move goods through airport, similar to inland ports and container depots, off-airport cargo processing facilities can be developed.

Moreover, these facilities to be ably augmented by cold chains in the vicinity of low cost airports, which can facilitate warehousing and dispatching cargo of perishable goods. This will help reduce congestion and delays at airports. Development of such off-airport facilities can be defined as infrastructure and the respective benefits should be extended accordingly.

E-vehicles to Boost Urban Transportation

There is also a need to boost urban transport within the cities. In this regard, recent announcement of government to treat e-rickshaws with motor power of 650mw as non-motorised vehicles in the NCR is a welcome step. However, government will have to be mindful that although e-rickshaws are environment friendly, their use should not go out of proportions to increase congestion in already cramped up roads.

Hence, government should promote setting up of state level funding agencies to finance urban transport projects. Central government should facilitate states setting up such bodies and providing government guarantees to securing funds from international financial institutions.

Implementation through Fiscal Incentives

However, to effectively execute the above ideas, it is also important to back them by suitable fiscal incentives. Some of these include:

- relaxation of ECB norms for borrowing by infrastructure companies,

- extension of tax incentives on major augmentation of existing infrastructure, in particular Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (‘MRO’) services in airlines,

- extension of depreciation on expenditure incurred to develop public assets on BOT, which is not owned by

private sector, even for the sector other than roads

- exemption of MAT for infrastructure sector during 80IA period.

At the outset, there is a lot to be done, which poses a big challenge, but also presents an opportunity for the government for creating much needed transport infrastructure for doing business. Although, industry expects government to respond timely on the above hard-pressed reforms, in the upcoming budget Government will have to strike balance between its

revenues and easing of complex net of regulations and approvals to enhance the value-addition process and making us more competitive. .

Source:The Economic Times

Government open to buying equity in highway projects, puts PPPs on hold

July 16, 2014

The government is open to buying equity in some of the 189 stalled highway projects where Rs 1.8 lakh crore is locked up due to myriad pending clearances, in a bid to jumpstart the highway sector, which it believes can push up the country’s growth rate by at least 2 per cent over the next two years.

The NDA government has also decided to put all public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the road sector on hold for two to three years as just a few infrastructure firms have any capacity to invest in new projects.

With banks having stopped lending to the infrastructure sector, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and finance minister Arun Jaitley are also looking at alternative long-term and lower-cost financing from pension funds like theRs 7.5 lakh crore Employees’ Provident Fund, or EPF.

Most developers are either restructuring their debts or are saddled with projects that have turned into non-performing assets.

“Today, the country has just 4-5 developers who are not in CDR (corporate debt restructuring) or in NPA lists. For the rest, band baaja baj gaya hai, aisi haalat hai (they are in a shambles)… So the PPP model is not possible at all,” said highways, road transport and shipping minister Nitin Gadkari, Instead, the focus would be on new highway building through EPC, or engineering, procurement and construction, contracts for which the government foots the bill.

The PM has tasked Gadkari to lead a panel that would review all projects stuck in the infrastructure to lead a panel that would review all projects stuck in the infrastructure sectors of ports, roads, railways and airports every month and try to disentangle the mess left behind by the UPA government.

“I don’t want to blame anybody but the previous government didn’t even acquire 10 per cent land or procure forest clearances, yet work orders were given. The contractors achieved financial closure also, but they couldn’t start work for over two years, so banks withdrew their financial sanctions,” said Gadkari, explaining the logjam in highway projects.

The ministry has already resolved problems facing projects worth Rs 40,000 crore through intensive deliberations with developers and bankers and hopes to remove hurdles facing the rest of the projects worth Rs 1.4 lakh crore so that work can start on most of them by August 15.

“Most players want to pay a 1 per cent fine to abandon their projects and run away. I have told them, I will levy a 10 per cent penalty and blacklist

you so you won’t be able to do a single project for the rest of your life,” Gadkari said.

The four big reasons that projects are stuck, the minister said, were land acquisition, forest and environmental clearances, defence land tracts on highway alignments and delays in clearances for rail overbridges from the railways.

The road ministry is also creating a shelf of road projects worth Rs 2-3 lakh crore for which it would initiate work on obtaining green clearances and land along with detailed project reports,so that they can bid out as the sector revives.

Gadkari said that infra projects in today’s environment can only become viable if they get low-cost funds, since construction costs have gone up while traffic revenues have dipped. Bank lending rates are at 13 per cent while infrastructure bonds offer funds at 9 per cent.

“We are talking to countries where bank deposit rates are low, and hope to get around Rs 1 lakh crore from them for which we will give them 26 per cent equity in projects. I have also written to the PM and the finance minister to open up pension fund investments in infrastructure sector,” he said.

The minister said that a decision has been made to link the one lakh kilometres of national highways with optic fibre cables, gas pipelines and power transmission lines, preferably underground.

“We have decided to go for cement roads as they can now be 4 per cent cheaper than bitumen roads. I have spoken to four cement companies to consider this and have warned industry not to form a cartel and raise prices,” he said.

“American roads are not good because America is rich. But America is rich because American roads are good. So, I will try to raise the country’s GDP from 4.5 per cent by at least 2 per cent in the next two years through the highway and ports sector,” the minister said, speaking at an interaction with industry experts on Tuesday.

source: Economic Times

Hand Gurgaon expressway to us, NHAI tells Centre

September 26, 2013


 NEW DELHI : Fed up with protracted legal proceedings and Haryana government’s indifference, the National Highways Authority of India wants the Centre to allow it to take over the poorly run Gurgaon expressway. It has also supported doing away with tolling in public interest.
In a letter to the ministry of roads, transport and highways, NHAI chairperson R P Singh has asked the Centre to select the best option to end the daily nightmare of jammed toll booths that lakhs of stressed commuters have to put up with.Importantly, Singh has supported the growing public demand to end tolling. “Tolling in municipal areas causes inconvenience to public and there is a strong case in public interest to remove toll plazas from municipal limits,” he said.NHAI said the concession agreement has a provision for taking over the project from the concessionaire. “The right course of action in such a situation, therefore, should be to acquire back this concession than going on wasting time in litigation,” the letter said.

Urging the Centre to act, NHAI said that if the ministry did not consider the NHAI option, it should ensure the project is handed over to the Haryana government. In any event, the Centre should not spend more time on litigation that is dragging on.

In a sharp indictment of the Haryana government, NHAI told road secretary Vijay Chhibber that while Haryana government exploits the expressway link to generate revenues, it has done little to reduce the load on the highway.

“It is the responsibility of the state government to provide connectivity across the national highway without interfering with the highway traffic,” the NHAI said. But instead of improving infrastructure, Haryana has pursued sought added NHAI investment.

Officials told TOI that Haryana government has been glacial when it has come to implementing its promises. Neither the state government or the legal process was anywhere near providing a solution.

NHAI chief in his letter said the chaos on Gurgaon expressway is due to the linear development in the millennium city where large scale land use has been changed to maximize revenue. He has said that Gurgaon’s Master Plan should have provided for lateral arterial roads instead of using NH-8 as the main artery.

The letter echoes what Delhi-Gurgaon commuters and travelers within Gurgaon experience – the highway is one of the main conduits of intra-city commuting as underpasses, over bridges and linking roads have not been developed. Plans for an alternate Delhi-Gurgaon road are also gathering dust.

NHAI said it has written that Haryana government looks towards NHAI for even construction of foot over bridges (FOBs) and maintaining drains. “This is not the concept under which the highways are supposed to be developed and maintained,” the letter says.

Singh has said that Haryana has been pushing for creating additional facilities such as flyover at Hero Honda Chowk, FOBs, crossing facilities between Rajiv Chowk and Kherki Dhaula, which are not highway facilities but conveniences for town residents.

The NHAI chairman has also pointed to “reckless” lending by IDFC and four other public sector banks, who without regard to the termination payment, gave a Rs 1,600 crore loan on account of refinancing.

Singh mentioned that NHAI and the Centre had signed an agreement on September 18, 2012, with the concessionaire only with the view to protect interests of public sector banks. He claimed that despite NHAI walking an extra mile the lenders “do not seem to be bothered at all and are still behaving in an irresponsible manner.”

Singh points out that the developer and lenders are raising extraneous issues and diverting attention from the main issue of violation of the latest MoU that was negotiated under court supervision. By not implementing its terms, the concessionaire can be in contempt of the Delhi High Court. The case, he said, has made no progress in the last six months.

NHAI said that if Haryana does not want to take over the project, the Centre can consider giving about Rs 1.8 crore revenue per month – the amount that the authority gets as its revenue share from toll.

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.


Government Set to Award 3,000 km Road Projects under EPC this fiscal

July 23, 2012

To accelerate highway building process, Road Transport Ministry is all set to bid out at least 3,000 km of projects this fiscal and 20,000 km by 2017 under EPC mode that minimises risk to developers.

Finding that 20,000 km of National Highways of the total about 74,000 km are single, low density traffic lanes, not viable on PPP (public private partnership) basis, the government is ready with the final draft of EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) that would be sent to the Cabinet by the month-end.

“We are ready to award over 3,000 km on EPC mode this fiscal to accelerate the road building process. The Ministry has decided for upgradation of 20,000 km highways to two-lane standards on EPC basis during the XIIth Five-Year Plan (2012-17), a Road Transport and Highways Ministry official said.


EPC mode would not only minimise time and cost overruns but would also result in increased bidding by developers, the official added.

In EPC projects, the government pays the developer for constructing the highway while the toll revenues accrue to the government.

The other two modes through which the highways projects are bid are build operate transfer (BOT-toll) and BOT-annuity. and EPC. In the BOT mode, the developer has to operate the highway for several years.

The model draft for EPC said, “Experience also suggests that annuity based projects are comparatively expensive, while conventional contracts (BOT) are prone to time and cost overruns. It has, therefore, been decided to adopt the EPC mode of construction.”

The draft quoted a sample analysis of 20 NH projects executed on item-rate contracts that took, on an average, 61 months to complete as against 29 months taken by projects executed through PPP which generally adopted the EPC mode for project execution.

“Further, these projects had cost overruns of an average 48% (ranging from 25 to 183%) besides large volumes of foregone toll revenues on account of delayed completion,” the draft said.

With a view to enabling a transparent, fair and competitive roll out of highway projects, the model draft incorporates international best practices and provides a sound contractual framework that specifies the allocation of risks and rewards, equity of obligations between Government and the Contractor, precision and predictability of costs etc, the draft added.

On selection of contractor, the draft said it will be based on open competitive bidding and “the bidder who seeks the lowest payment should win the contract.”

On defect liability period, it said that same has been made two years from the earlier specified one year to “in order to provide additional comfort to the Government.”

The draft has been finalised by an inter-ministerial panel against the backdrop of differences between the Road Transport Ministry and the Planning Commission over some issues including the defect liability period.

Road Transport Secretary A K Upadhyay last week said that the Ministry after obtaining stakeholders comments on draft EPC would send it for Cabinet nod by July 30.

The EPC mode is expected to accelerate the pace of awards as the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which has not awarded a single project in the last quarter.

Last month, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had set a target of award of 9,500 km of road projects in FY13 for the Ministry.


Government moves towards open toll system for highways

October 22, 2009

Highway users, there is good news round the corner. Soon, you will not have to stop for payment at every toll plaza.

The government is on the verge of introducing an open road tolling (ORT) system in the country, by which toll payment would become a one-time transaction per trip. Gurgaon Toll Plaza

The toll fees will be deducted either from the users’ bank account, or it collected at the beginning of the journey, in the manner of pre-paid or post-paid phone connections.

The ministry of road, transport and highways (MoRTH)  will on October 31 start a six-month pilot project to test the efficacy of ORT on three stretches on the national highways.

Three systems of ORT — Active, Passive and Calm tolling systems — would be tested for suitability.

The active tolling system (a microwave tag-based system that sends or receives signals) will be tested on the Gurgaon-
Jaipur stretch. The passive system (also microwave-based, but only send signals) on the Panipat-Jalandhar stretch. The calm ORT system, an infrared-based system that sends and receives signals and works on an optical fibre network, will be tried on the Surat-Dasihar stretch.

“We will finalise a system that is best suited for India. The tests have to be very elaborate and that is why they will carry on for six months,” a senior official at the ministry, who did not wish to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, told Hindustan Times.

A third party will independently evaluate the three systems for suitability for use in India.

The new toll system will significantly reduce the time spent by commercial vehicles at tollbooths. For instance, a commercial vehicle plying between Delhi and Mumbai has to stop at 20 toll plazas.

On an average, there is a toll plaza every 60 km in India.

“It will be a very good thing. Separate lanes for the new toll system will result in significant saving of travel time,” said Anil K.G., resident consultant of Bangalore-based logistics company Transworld International, which runs a fleet of 150 trucks.


Nath promises overhaul of road & highway sector

May 30, 2009

In what could be seen as strong indications of an overhaul in the working of road transport and highway sector, new minister Kamal Nath on Friday made it clear that he would go for wholesome changes in the ministry to put road construction back in top gear.

After taking charge of the ministry, Nath said his focus would be on implementation of projects on the ground rather than making big plans — a clear indication that the sector will get a major boost.

“Sadkon ko napi jaati hai, plans ko nahin (roads are measured and not the plans). Lot of thought has been given to planning in the past two years. Now we have to deliver. Performance is evaluated on the basis of kilometres of roads that are built. Now our agenda is of change. The system has to be overhauled so that work on the ground happens. Planning has to be delivered on roads,” he told reporters.

Nath, who was shifted from commerce and industry to road transport and highways, said he was “excited” about his new portfolio. He said he was looking forward to a challenge and he had got one.

On highway projects under public private partnership (PPP) model finding lukewarm response from private developers, the minister said, “Models which are not working have to be done away with and we need to adopt models which can attract investors. Moreover, just awarding the work is not just enough. We have to ensure progress is made on the ground.”

Spelling out his approach to bring the key infrastructure sector back on track, the minister said he was looking at structural changes in the system and procedures to make it result oriented. “Some of the old regulatory frameworks relating to transportation like multiple permit and Motor Vehicles Act have to be looked at from new perspectives. Old laws have to be amended,” he said.

Ministers of state Mahadev Khandela and R P N Singh also assumed charge on Friday.


Nath promises action on roads

May 30, 2009

Once the high-profile commerce minister making India’s voice heard at global trade fora, Kamal Nath is now tasked with putting the country’s teetering highway projects on track. The surface transport ministry had drawn criticism for slippage in project implementation and delay in awarding contracts , but the new minister says actions will speak for themselves . Excerpts from an interview:

What will be the key focus areas of the new government?

In the past, there has been enough planning. Now thoughts have to be transformed into action. We have to ensure that the system and platforms are workable. Performance has to be measured not in terms of plans, but actual work. Things have to be looked at in a new way. In a few weeks, a new model will be found so that India can build the highest number of road kilometres. We have to see that all the outlays are utilised. A successful plan is that which is converted into action.

There have been talks of roads as a stimulus to the economy…

The greater the outlay on construction of roads, the greater the impetus to the economy. If you look at the development of countries like China, Japan and those in Europe, it is all based on their roads and other major infrastructure. There could be better airports but without good roads it doesn’t help much. Along with highways, rural roads too have to be given proper attention.

Earlier, there were delays on the part of the government… but a big hurdle was the paucity of cash owing to the impacts of the financial slowdown, which too delayed project implementation…

We will meet all the states in a month’s time to remove the bottlenecks . Some old regulatory frameworks on transportation such as multiple permit and others have to be reviewed . We are looking at new models . We will look at new ways of capital inflow.


Govt needs to overhaul road infra regulations – Kamal Nath

May 30, 2009

India needs to rework its regulatory policy framework for road infrastructure, the new transport minister said on Friday, as the government looks at the sector to boost growth in a flagging economy. “Old regulatory framework needs to be looked in a new way,” Transport Minister Kamal Nath told a news conference.

India’s economy slowed to a six-year low of 6.7 percent in the year to March 2009, and many expect it to slow further to 6 percent in the current fiscal year, compared with 9 percent or more in the recent past.