Government of India to increase National Highway cover to 2 lakh kilometres

March 8, 2016

In order to address the rising vehicle congestion in the country, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has announced that the national highway cover will be increased from the current 96,000 kilometres to 2 lakh kilometres. He said that a formula has been devised based on vehicular traffic movement, according to which four-lane, six-lane and express highways will be developed.

Gadkari said, “At present, we have 96,000km national highways or 52 lakh km road length in the country. As much as 40 per cent of the traffic moves on these 2 per cent national highways and as a result, five lakh accidents take place.”

Smooth sailing, despite what it looks like

“Three lakh people get injured and 1.5 lakh are killed in these accidents. The main reason is traffic congestion. Therefore, to save lives of people and diversify traffic, our Government has decided to extend national highways from 96,000 km to two lakh km. Nearly 70 per cent to 80 per cent traffic of the country move on this,” he further added.

He also said that in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the total length of national highways was 8,483km of which 4,500km was with the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and 3,134km was with state Public Works Department. “In the next two months, we have decided to expand this 8,483km to 17,000km which is double. Few proposals have been submitted by the state government and others by MPs and MLAs.”

Additionally, two new highways will be developed in Uttar Pradesh. “First is east-west highway on which we are going to spend Rs 1,400 crore. This will reduce Delhi’s traffic by 50 per cent. The second one is from Delhi to Dasna, which would be 14-lane, a first time in the country,” he said. Gadkari mentioned that while earlier it took around 2-3 hours to travel from Delhi to Meerut, it will now take only 40 minutes

An access control highway connecting Lucknow to Kanpur has also been planned, which would reduce travel time between the two cities to 40 minutes. Gadkari said that 10 projects are likely to be awarded in the next three months with an investment of Rs 4,000 crore each.


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

Rajasthan plans 20,000 km of State Highways

July 15, 2014

Giving a major push to better road connectivity and tourism, Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje  announced the Budget for 2014-15 presented in the Assembly on Monday.

The total Plan outlay for the budget is Rs 69,820 crore, an increase of 72 per cent as against the last budget. The estimated revenue surplus stands at Rs 737 crore and the fiscal deficit at Rs 20,186 crore, which is 3.52 per cent of the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). The estimated budgetary deficit for the year 2014-15 is Rs 3,151 crore whereas the total revenue Receipts are estimated to be Rs 1,06,125 crore and the estimated revenue raised by the State is likely to be Rs 40,655 crore –18 per cent higher than the previous fiscal year.

Ms Raje also announced the setting up of a Rajasthan State highway authority for laying 20,000 km of State Highways. Six roads of 1,000 km would be developed as east-west corridor. To be developed under public-private partnership (PPP) mode, contracts would be given on the basis of output and performance-based roads construction system. “There will be penalty and incentives for builders as per the performance,” she said. All nationalised routes would be de-nationalised in a phased manner and the bus stops will be constructed with latest amenities.

Taking on the previous Congress government for initiating work on metro in hurried manner for political gains, Ms Raje said an amount of Rs 3,000 crore had been invested for laying a 12- km-long metro line. Economically, the Jaipur Metro is not feasible proposition and the same amount could have been utilised for laying 110 road over-bridges and 5,000 km of road across the State, she said.



Source: The Hindu

Second thoughts on highway rescue

December 13, 2013

Rangarajan panel reviews proposals on premium restructuring & penalties after PlanCom advisor’s objections

 Manu Balachandran  |  New Delhi  
C Rangarajan

Road developers hoping for early relief from the government will have to wait longer.

A committee set up under C Rangarajan, chairman, Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, is reworking its report on providing such relief, after concerns were raised by  Gajendra Haldea, advisor, Planning Commission.

Last Friday, Haldea raised concerns on the proposed recommendations. The issues in question were the structure of premium rescheduling and the penalty norms, following which the committee sought more clarity from the roads ministry.

The key recommendations of the report include rescheduling the premium that companies owe to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and fixing the interest payment on the deferred amount at 10.75 per cent. In addition, it felt no penalty should be charged on the developers.

Premium here is the amount NHAI concessionaires have to pay for a BoT (Build-Operate-Transfer) project, as the returns are expected to be high. It is usually decided on the basis of estimated future traffic flow at the time of bidding. The term for payment of the premium is usually 20 to 25 years and the amount payable ranges from Rs 3 crore to Rs 680 crore a year. The amount goes up yearly by five per cent, according to existing norms. NHAI is due to receive about Rs 151,000 crore over the next 20-25 years from private developers.

“The report was to be ready early this week. But, following a letter written by Haldea, Rangarajan has decided to study the concerns raised and we can expect final recommendations only in the next 10 days,” said a senior official in the roads ministry. Haldea confirmed he’d commented on the report but declined to disclose details.

The Rangarajan committee was set up this October. This was after a number of road developers threatened to walk out of projects due to the economy’s slowing. They’ve complained about inability to generate adequate revenue for repaying the premium. The committee had also proposed that the companies not be allowed to pay dividend to their parent companies until they cleared their dues to NHAI.

There was also a recommendation to allow private road developers to pay only 25 per cent of the premium they owed NHAI in the first three years. Companies were to raise this to half the amount due after three years. The sum carried forward was to attract an interest rate of 10.75 per cent.

“The trigger point for Haldea to raise the concern seems to be the absence of penalty. He does not want the companies to be given a breather and wants to overrule a cabinet decision which wanted projects to continue. If we do not allow this rescheduling, then we have to go in for re-bids. Given the current environment, we will not get any bidders,” the ministry official added.

The government has already cancelled a plan to award projects on public-private partnership during this financial year and is moving towards government-funded projects. The roads ministry plans to now award 5,000 kilometres this year under the engineering-procurement and construction mode this year, after the developers decided to stay away from bidding.


BJP stir over NH-33 repair

November 22, 2013



RANCHI: The National Highway 33 between Ranchi and Jamshedpur is likely to be repaired soon. Though political agitations have been taking place over the past few months and the parties have been demanding repair of the Steel City residents’ lifeline, the hue and cry got noticed only on Thursday. Two BJP leaders, one each from Ranchi and Jamshedpur, led a workers’ team which sat on a dharna at the National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) regional office in Ranchi.

Former minister and Jamshedpur MLA Raghubar Das and former BJP legislator Saryu Rai jointly staged a dharna before the NHAI office in Ranchi with dozens of BJP workers demanding immediate repair of the highway. The protestors held placards in their hands and said if the road was not repaired soon they would not allow the NHAI office to function. Das said it was because of the apathy of the state government towards common man’s concerns that the NHAI office have delayed and denied repairing the road.

“Jharkhand’s ‘Super CM’, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had announced that FIRs would be lodged against the erring officials of NHAI if the road construction work did not start in 15 days. ‘Dummy CM’ Hemant Soren made similar announcement when he visited the Steel City,” Das said.

Saryu Rai, who also sat on the dharna, said being in opposition it was the responsibility of the BJP to draw attention of the government to issues that need immediate government intervention. “We receive reports of death on NH-33 almost everyday and hence waiting for the four-laning of road would just be a waste of time and precious lives,” he said.

After the dharna the NHAI officials assured the BJP protestors to start work on Chandil-Jamshedpur stretch from Friday with 100 labourers and between Ranchi and Bundu with another 100 labourers.

CPI seminar for more safety measures on highways

November 5, 2013

 By Express News Service – HYDERABAD


  • CPI state secretary K Narayana (right) speaking at an all-party meeting on ‘Road accidents and private bus operators’ negligence’ at the party office, Mqdoom Bhavan, in Hyderabad on Sunday | A RADHAKRISHNA
    CPI state secretary K Narayana (right) speaking at an all-party meeting on ‘Road accidents and private bus operators’ negligence’ at the party office, Mqdoom Bhavan, in Hyderabad on Sunday | A RADHAKRISHNA


CPI state secretary K Narayana on Sunday said  that though widening of roads has helped in cutting down time taken to reach different places, suitable safety measures to control accidents on highways is not taken. “If a vehicle breaks down, it is parked on the road as there is no other place on highways, because of this incidence of accidents is increasing,” said Narayana, speaking at an all party meeting organised by his party on ‘Road accident and private bus operators’ negligence’.The meeting organised by the CPI on Sunday had representatives of Communist party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M)) and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) who discussed the measures that need to be taken to avoid bus incidents such as that of Volvo bus accident at Kothakota, Mahbubnagar.

Pointing out that blaming drivers for all the accidents will not help in finding actual reasons of accidents, Y Venkateswara Rao, state secretariat member, CPI (M) said, “It will not help in-depth analysis of the problem”. He suggested that the APSRTC should run its bus services in areas where there are good chances of generating income.

Family members of the victims who got burnt in the bus accident demanded that bodies of the victims should be handed over to them as soon as possible.  “We immediately reached the accident spot and received the body of my brother Akshay Singh. But when we reached Jadcherla, we got a call from the police that the body should be taken to Osmania hospital. Till now we did not get back the body,” lamented Ashish, brother of Akshay Singh, a software engineer who lost his life in the bus accident.

K Narayana also suggested that apart from the bus operators, government should also provide compensation to victims of bus accidents and that in buses which travel long distances, drivers should not drive for more than four hours and that a traffic police van should regularly patrol highways.



Build highways to China, South-East Asia

October 24, 2013

By ET Bureau |


The proposed highway, starting from Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand, will pass through Myanmar.

The proposed highway, starting from Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand, will pass through Myanmar.


Commerce minister Anand Sharma has said that work on a highway to link India with Myanmar and Thailand should start soon. This is welcome. But the government has to be more ambitious.The proposed highway, starting from Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand, will pass through Myanmar. It should also turn northwards and connect with Kunming, the biggest city of the province of Yunnan in China.

China is already working on ambitious highway-building projects linking coastal Myanmar to Yunnan and it makes great sense to link the highway from India with this. That way, trade would open up between eastern India all the way to landlocked southern China, Myanmar and Thailand. India should also negotiate with Bangladesh for this highway to pass through its territory.

That way, instead of terminating traffic and commerce in the northeast, the highway could run all the way to Kolkata. Once there, it would be easy to link the East-West Corridor with the India-Myanmar-China-Thailand highway.

Immense trade potential could open up if, say, Pune is connected to Kunming via one long, continuous highway. Along the way, goods can also be dropped off in markets in Bangladesh, the north-east, Myanmar and on to Thailand.

Southern Asia is among the world’s least-integrated regions. It was not always thus. Before Partition, south and south-east Asia was a closely networked hub of commerce and services. In the 1930s, the British built a road between Burma and southern China.

During WWII, American general Joe Stilwell built another one from Ledo in Assam to Kunming, to supply Chinese fighting the Japanese. The Stilwell road, too, should be revived, repaired and used extensively to boost trade and commerce between India, China and south-east Asia.


Odisha needs more pvt funds for transport sector: minister

October 7, 2013

Govt has recently launched Rs 3,000-crore plan to develop state highways within next four years

 Private investors should come up with investment plan for improvement of transport infrastructure in the state  like they have done in metal, power and port sectors, said Subrat Tarai, state minister of commerce and  transport.

“Without adequate investment in road and railway transport infrastructure, private investment only in building new ports will be in vain. Better transport infrastructure will ensure higher manufacturing activities too”, he said at Transport Infra Odisha-2013, a conference organised by Indian Chambers of Commerce (ICC) here to highlight different issues of the sector.

The minister said, Public Private Partnership (PPP) is being promoted for physical and social infrastructure creation. The state also seeks to augment public sector investment in high priority sectors like infrastructure.

The state government has recently launched a Rs 3000 crore plan to develop state highways within next four years. However, there is need for more investment from private and government-run PSUs in this sector, he said.

Tarai recently met Union Railways minister on a proposal to develop rail link from Bimlagarh in Koira tehsil of Sundergarh district to Talcher in public private partnership (PPP) mode. Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has shown interest to invest in the project.

“As of now, SAIL, the Railways and the state government are ready to invest in the Rs  800 crore project. I am sure more partners would come forward to participate in the project, which after completion, would reduce total travel time from Rourkela to Cuttack by at least five hours”, said the minister at the conference.The proposed rail line will help in transporting steel products of Rourkela Steel Plant in minimum possible time, he added.

Besides the rail project, the state government has taken initiative to develop the Rs 5000 crore National Waterways-5 by partnering with public sector enterprises and private investors instead of waiting for World Bank fund as that might delay the project implementation.




Connecting India: It’s still a long, bumpy road ahead

September 18, 2013

By Raghav Chandra

 (When commercial competitiveness…)



The last three years have been remarkable for Indian road infrastructure: projects of 15,000 km were awarded during 2010-13. Yet, there is a huge task ahead. A decade ago, the bulk of the programme was done via the public funding route, today, 90% of highway development is undertaken via public-private partnership (PPP): on a design, build, finance and operate basis, where the private sector is involved in the entire project life cycle and shares commercial risks.


Surprisingly, many bids received did not ask for viability-gap funding and, instead, went for a hefty premium. While such flamboyant bids were a recognition of the unforeseen and untapped multiplier and induction effects of highways networking, they underlined the importance of private funding and effective implementation of contracts.


Some of the most strategically important cities of India are being connected now: for instance, Ahmedabad-Vadodara and Kishangarh-Udaipur-Ahmedabad would connect with Delhi-Jaipur-Ajmer-Kishangarh-Mumbai-Surat-Vadodara to complete the Delhi-Mumbai corridor. Similarly, Gwalior-Shivpuri and Shivpuri-Dewas would fill critical links for another alternate corridor connecting Delhi and Mumbai via commercial Indore. Similarly, Amravati-Jalgaon-Dhule would help connect Hazira port in Gujarat to Paradip port in Odisha and eventually mirror the East-West corridor along India’s economic hinterland of Gujarat and Maharashtra all the way to Kolkata.


But when the economy hits a speed breaker, the projected network externalities appear exaggerated and committed financiers pull back. When a single project languishes, it has a domino effect on all others whose viability suddenly becomes suspect. In normal times, there are challenges of financing because of an asset-liability mismatch and exhaustion of exposure limits of banks. Today, highway development requires stronger commitment to tide over wavering macro fundamentals. Besides, there are many roads of low-commercial viability in economically-backward areas that can only be undertaken through public funding.


But the most critical challenge today is on the implementation side. The National Highways Authority of India is overloaded and focused largely on award of projects. Contract management and oversight to ensure quality construction, maintenance and completion has taken a backseat under the PPP model. The private sector faces a dearth of managerial resources that can competently handle complex issues involved in coordinating with a multiplicity of governmental and local agencies.


While PPP models are useful to support fiscal constraints, they are not perfect panaceas. The government cannot afford to depend on the efficiency of the PPP developer. The former needs to nudge, cajole and guide the concessionaire and work with him to make him fulfil his commitment without compromising on standards, quality and timeliness. The regulatory capture of the independent engineer is a reality that cannot be ignored and discounted.


Further, the involvement of state governments has been missing despite their key role in facilitating acquisition of land, shifting of utilities and providing security and encroachment-free passage for uninterrupted right of way. States, along with their city governments, need to build their own connectivity corridors and spruce up main district roads and municipal roads by adopting innovative methodologies that leverage land and development rights. States should establish Road Development Corporations and vest them with adequate authority and resources. Having the chief minister as the chairman and the chief secretary as the vice-chairman, a model adopted in Madhya Pradesh in early 2004, will ensure highway development gets strategic support.


The challenge is speedy award of remaining highways and effective implementation of already awarded ones. Development of high-speed corridors between important urban centres and specialised connectivity projects is the need of the hour. It is not enough just to have a highway that connects two important points.


When commercial competitiveness is defined by the speed and reduced cost of transaction, it is imperative to have safe access-controlled travel and effective last-mile connectivity.

(The writer is an IAS officer. Views are personal)




Punjab govt initiates Rs 13,000 crore road connectivity project

September 12, 2013

The Punjab government today launched a programme of Rs 13,000 crore to connect all major cities and towns in the state with 4/6 lane expressways.

The state has 1,739 km of National Highway of which 405 km have already been upgraded to 4 lane and the construction of 4/6 laning of more than 650 km of highways is on full swing.


The state government has chalked out an ambitious plan to construct quality roads along with the banks of major rivers and canals flowing through the state to provide shortest route.


These projects would have dual benefit as besides developing shortest routes, we would also be able to strengthen the embankments of these water channels thereby containing any flood like situation



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