December 16, 2013
Press Trust of India | Chandigarh
Kaithal-Ambala national highway would be four-laned at a cost of Rs 728 crore, a state minister said today.
Expressing gratitude towards Prime Minister Manmohan Singhand UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi for approval of the project, Haryana Public Works (Buildings and Roads) Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala said that this 90-km-long national highway would especially benefit three districts of Ambala, Kaithal and Kurukshetra.
He said separate bypasses would be constructed for the towns of Kaithal, Pehowa and Ismailabad which were situated between Kaithal and Ambala.
With the approval of this project, the long-standing demand of the people of the area has been fulfilled, he said, in an official release here.
Surjewala said that for the development of Kaithal an 18-km-long separate bypass would be constructed.
Also, a corridor from Kotputli to Ambala at a cost of Rs 1300 crore would be setup which would open new business and employment opportunities for the residents of Kaithal, he added.
December 13, 2013
However, to the shock of CID officials, National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) senior officials on Wednesday wrote a letter to additional director-general of police (CID) T.Krishna Prasad, asserting that the road design is ‘flawless’.
Credible sources in the CID told TOI that, in a written reply to it, the NHAI asserted this point.
The CID sought NHAI’s opinion to know if there was any defect in the road design, especially near the culvert, where the driver of Jabbar Travels bus hit the structure. Forty-five passengers were charred to death in the incident. “Project director, NHAI, Ramesh Reddy said that there was absolutely no fault with the culvert design or its construction,” the sources said.
Family members of the bus victims have been knocking on the door of every institution, including Lokayukta, demanding action against influential JC Uma Reddy in whose name the bus was registered. But she is yet to be questioned by CID officials.
Investigators said scrutinizing documents was almost done and soon Uma Reddy, bus driver, bus operator, ticket booking agents, RTA officials and others would be questioned. The RTA officials are likely to be investigated as there were 52 passengers against the actual seating capacity of 43+2.
December 13, 2013
KOCHI:National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will relay the damaged stretch between Aroor and Kumbalam on NH66 (old NH47) on Friday.
The authority said that the machines required to carry out road milling works are on the way to Kochi from Andhra Pradesh.
NHAI had closed the Aroor-Kumbalam bridge after its surface developed large potholes that posed a threat to motorists. After inspecting the bridge, experts from IIT Madras had recommended that the entire tarred surface be removed. The bridge was built in 1987 and the authority stated that under present circumstance it was not possible to dismantle it.
Abraham said that the immediate concern of NHAI was to repair the road and make it motorable. The authority stated that though milling works are rarely carried out in the state, the works undertaken in Kochi was a ‘minor task which could be completed in a day’.
The estimated cost for the carrying out the work is around Rs 2.5 lakh. tnn The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will relay the damaged stretch on NH66 (old NH 47) between Aroor and Kumbalam on Friday. The authority said that the machine required for carrying out the “road milling works” are on the way to Kochi from Andhra Pradesh.
NHAI project director C T Abraham said, “The plan is to grind the existing tarred surface and remove asphalt. We have to seal the concrete surface below and make it water tight. Later, the stretch will be re-layed using bitumen concrete.”
NHAI had closed the Aroor-Kumbalam bridge after its surface developed large potholes, which posed grave threat to motorists. After inspecting the bridge, experts from IIT Madras had recommended to break up the entire tarred surface. The bridge was built in 1987 and the authority stated that under the present circumstance it was not possible to dismantle it.
Abraham said that the immediate concern of NHAI was to repair the road and make it motorable.
The authority stated that though milling works are rarely carried out in the state, the works undertaken in Kochi was a ‘minor task which could be completed in a day’. The estimated cost for the carrying out the works is around Rs 2.5 lakh.
December 11, 2013
Manabesh Mohanty,TNN |
NH-5 connects the twin cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.
The problem is an under-construction flyover near Madhupatna for which the private construction company has not made arrangements for a diversion. This situation has been going on for the past three to four months.
The construction company in question has not made any attempts to clear encroachment on the road which would have made it possible to create a diversion.
The National Highways Authority of India declined to comment.
December 10, 2013
Manish Umbrajkar,TNN |
PUNE: The 34-km Dehu Road-Katraj bypass, linking the outskirts of Pune with Pimpri Chinchwad, has become unsafe for road users.
The traffic branch of the Pune police has identified as many as 20 accident-prone spots on this stretch which is a part of the Pune-Bangalore national highway. A detailed report on the causes of accidents has been drawn up and road-safety measures have been suggested for implementation by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which has constructed the road.
Deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Vishwas Pandhare on Monday said at least 110 people have lost their lives on this stretch in the last three years. Besides 110 fatalities, a total of 47 accidents, resulting in serious injuries to people have occurred on the road. “This is the most unsafe stretch of road passing through Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad municipal limits,” Pandhare said.
Traffic branch officials led by police inspector S G Bhambure had conducted a study of the road for nearly three months. It identified the accident-prone spots and causes of accidents. The traffic branch officials had invited NHAI officials to participate in the study. Traffic engineer Pratapsinh Bhosale and traffic policeman Deepak Varse helped them.
Pandhare said the report will be submitted to NHAI officials. “Although the traffic branch has identified the accident-prone spots, an independent road safety audit should be conducted. There should be a system put in place by the NHAI which will continuously monitor road safety measures,” he added.
Among the 110 fatalities, the highest number of deaths were those of two-wheeler riders, followed by pedestrians. The trend was replicated in the number of mishaps with serious injuries. The stretch has just four locations with safe pedestrian crossings.
Some common points identified as causes of accidents are absence of road signages, punctures of road median, absence of street lights, and absence of safe pedestrian crossings. At many places, gravel has been strewn on the left side of the road which makes two-wheeler riders use the right side of their lanes. It puts them in direct conflict with fast-moving vehicles and trucks that use the right side, resulting in accidents. Many locations have no demarcation of service roads and the main road, and medians are broken.
NHAI officials said a team of road safety consultants will conduct a road safety audit for three days. “They have been directed to coordinate with police officials to identify accident-prone locations and submit remedial measures,” an NHAI official said.
As recently as November 3, Subhash Rathod (50), a labourer was killed on the spot and another sustained severe injuries after the motorcycle they were riding crashed into a stationery truck near the Katraj-Dehu Road bypass in Pashan.
On February 12, 2012, two national-level badminton players from the city died in an accident near the Shiv Chhatrapati sports complex at Balewadi. Another player, who was in the car, was critically injured. Siddhant Ghorpade and Saurabh Paralikar, both from Kothrud, were killed when their speeding car went off the road and crashed into a tree. Noted classical instrument maker Yusuf Mirajkar was among two persons, who died in an accident on Katraj-Dehu Road bypass on August 17, 2011.
Throbbing with activity
* Eleven years ago the Dehu Road-Katraj bypass was constructed as a four-lane highway to allow heavy vehicles, buses and other vehicles to avoid entering the city. The highway stretch is an important link from Mumbai to Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Belgaum, and Bangalore. Over the past decade, the bypass has become an integral part of Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad.
* Many commercial establishments, educational institutions, residential schemes have come up along both sides of the bypass. Vehicular and non-motorised traffic like pedestrians, and cyclists have invariably increased. The absence of service roads forces people to make use of the main road.
* The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has taken up widening of the highway stretch from four lanes to six lanes. Bridges across the river and subways are being built. Road-safety features have been hit because of the ongoing works. The issue was raised by road safety activists at a recent traffic advisory committee meeting organized by the police commissionerate.
December 10, 2013
Mihir : New Delhi,
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is set to award road projects of over 1,600 km under the Engineering, Procurement and Contract (EPC) route in the next few months, an indication that momentum is picking up in the sector that has been under pressure in recent times.This is part of the 2,500 km of projects earmarked by the authority for awards this year.
“We have already received bids for five projects covering 502 km and the response is good. The number of bids these projects have received range from as low as 4 to 12. We are satisfied with the response under the EPC,” said a senior NHAI official.
In addition, the NHAI has also called bids for another 225 km and are preparing bids for projects covering 800 km.
The official added that these projects will act as a booster for the slowdown-hit infrastructure companies, who are not showing interest in projects under public-private partnership (PPP).
NHAI had to shift its focus from awarding under EPC after projects offered under PPP mode failed to attract takers. The authority did not find any takers for 20 “viable” projects put up for bids during the current fiscal.
Projects under EPC are virtually risk-free for the contractor, as the government funds the construction. Under this mechanism, the contractor has to quote the cost of constructing or upgrading the road section, and if the bid is accepted, the government funds the project.
The official added that the authority has enough cash to fund these projects under EPC during the current fiscal.
“Money is not an issue during the current fiscal, as these projects would require only 15 per cent of the total project cost during the year. Also, we do not have to acquire a large amount of land because these projects are to be built on the existing alignment and land required will already be in place,” said the official.
With the award of 2,500 km under EPC, NHAI would be able to able to improve its award tally for the current fiscal.
The authority managed to award only 800 km of projects in 2012-13.
During the current fiscal, NHAI has awarded projects covering 859 km so far – a substantial portion under EPC. The road transport ministry has awarded projects covering 463 km.
BIDS RECEIVED for 5 projects covering 502 km
THE average number of bids received range from 4 to 12
BIDS are being called for projects covering 225 km, and preparations are underway for an additional 800 km
The award target for projects under EPC is 2,500 km
859 km of road projects have been awarded in this fiscal
December 3, 2013
By Md Ameen – VIJAYAWADA
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will take a decision on renewal of the contract awarded to Hyderabad-based Madhucon Constructions for widening of the Vijayawada-Machilipatnam highway in a couple of weeks. The NHAI and Madhucon Constructions signed a two-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2011 for widening of the 65-km national highway from Benz Circle in Vijayawada to Machilipatnam at a cost of `609 crore.
The project has come back into focus as the period of MoU expired in September, 2013 and the contractors expressing their willingness to start the project in view of the fast-tracking of the state bifurcation process.
The Vijayawada-Machilipatnam highway is one of the most important projects in Coastal Andhra as it connects Hyderabad. The existing two-lane national highway is not adequate to meet the increasing traffic demands between Vijayawada and Machilipatnam.
Of late, the road has become accident-prone especially on the stretch between Benz Circle and Kankipadu where vehicular traffic peaks in the morning and evening hours. The NHAI has proposed bypass roads near Vuyyur, Sultan Nagaram near Machilipatnam, Pamarru and Kankipadu. For some administrative and other reasons, the Madhucon Constructions has failed to ground the construction works for the last two years.
One of the important reasons for poor response from Madhucon Constructions is said to be the delay in the construction of Machilipatnam port. The Vijayawada-Guntur region is in the race for the proposed new capital of the residuary Andhra Pradesh.
If the Vijayawada-Machilipatnam Highway is widened, the revenue of toll gate will increase in the coming years which will be beneficial to the contractors. A senior NHAI official said the organisation is likely to renew the contract.
The proposed widening of the Vijayawada-Machilipatnam highway will play a vital role in the development of Krishna district.
The widened road will be of great use for transportation of goods from the central coastal districts and Hyderabad to the proposed Machilipatnam port.
November 29, 2013
Though information was procured instantly from NHAI regarding action after the Neera River deaths, the officer insisted on writing an application under Section 6 of the RTI Act
The unique part of Nav Bharat Nagarik Manch’s agitation on Wednesday morning was inspection of files under Section 4 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. Nav Bharat Nagarik Manch held a demonstration in front of the NHAI office before procuring documents under RTI. Nav Bharat members DVR Rao, Commander Ravindra Pathak (retd), Raja Narsimhan, Mahesh Tele, Omkar Virkar, Dhananjay Oval, Akash Jadhav, Mrs Sonawane, Hrushikesh Patankar and Prashant Salunke held the demonstrations. We wanted to procure following documents after the horrendous Neera River bridge tragedy of 2nd November, which killed four young ad professionals from Pune after their car plunged into the river in the absence of a crash barrier at the tip of the bridge:
1. Correspondence between NHAI and Reliance Infra (or whatever are the names of the sub contractors) regarding action on the repair of the Neera River bridge after submission of the Inspection Report of Neera Tragedy by your Safety Consultants, sometime last week.
2. Correspondence between NHAI, Pune and the central authority of NHAI/Union Ministry of surface, road and transport, regarding repair of the Neera Bridge to make it safe, post the November 2 tragedy.
3. Correspondence of the last one year, from NHAI Pune office to Reliance Infra pertaining to the condition of the highway road constructed by Reliance Infra in the 300 km odd Maharashtra portion of the stretch of the Mumbai-Bangalore highway
4. Photographs taken out by NHAI regarding the condition of the Maharashtra stretch of the Mumbai-Bangalore stretch which is under operation, maintenance and security of Reliance Infra
5. Documents pertaining to action taken by NHAI against Reliance Infra in the past one year for shoddy work.
6. Unlike Section 6 of the RTI Act, where you need to write a formal application and pay Rs10 in cash or through IPO for a central government office, no formal application is required to inspect files under Section 4.
7. Yet, this writer sent a previous intimation to Rajesh Kaundal, Project Director, NHAIstating: “I wish to bring to your notice that a citizen desiring to inspect the documents containing information covered under Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, 2005, need not make any formal requisition under Section 6 of the Act because these documents should have already been published by the public authority so that citizens have ‘minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information’’
8. The contract given to Reliance Infra is clearly covered under `permits and authorisations’ and hence is covered under Section 4. I intend to exercise my right as a citizen to inspect these documents in your office with my colleagues during our peaceful protest today at your office between 11 am and 1 p m. Please note that it is not necessary for me under the Act to give such notice before inspection of documents covered under Section 4 of the Act. However, being a responsible citizen, I thought it appropriate to intimate you beforehand.’’
Despite this, Mr Kaundal replied to my email request stating: “Section 4 (1)(b) is designed to ensure that public authorities disclose certain information which are important to the public voluntarily at every level of operation. Please log on to www.nhai.org for the information published by NHAI.”
“For any other information requested in specific, it is requested to submit application to PIO with requisite fee so that the same can be made available to you within the stipulated time period including inspection of the documents for extraction of the information if required by you. In case of any difference of opinion, it is requested to contact CPIO on the following address:- VS Darbari, GM (Coord) & CPIO, National Highways Authority of India, No.G-5 & 6, Sector – 10, Dwarka, New Delhi – 110 075.Contact No.011-25074100 (Extn : 1520). Email : firstname.lastname@example.org.’’
The writer wrote back stating: “The information I have asked for comes under Section 4 of the RTI Act. However, it is not put up on your website, as far as I searched. In the absence, of you not having uploaded it in the public domain, that is uploaded on www.nhai.org, I, as a citizen, is allowed physical inspection of files in your office.’’
However, no amount of explanation convinced Mr Kaundal, when this writer met him in the office. He insisted that I file an application under Section 6 of the RTI Act and he has no problem about providing me information immediately. Since he assured me of immediate inspection of files, I relented. However, I am filing a complaint to the Information commissioner today, for not providing me information under Section 4.
It is so exasperating that, even after seven years of the implementation of the RTI Act, neither do most public authorities suo motu upload information under Section 4 on their respective websites and hesitate to allow physical inspection of files by citizens.
Amongst the several documents I procured, the following one is very worrying, as the contractor now says all major bridges from Dehu Road to Satara need crash barriers for safety but insists that the NHAI must pay for the repairs. And therein lies the ping-pong game of NHAI Pune sending this request to the Delhi office.
The details are as follows:
PS Toll Roads Pvt Ltd, the subsidiary agency of Reliance Infra has sent a letter to Project Director, NHAI on 25th November, stating that raising and strengthening of the Median wall (wall in between the two bridges) to the height of the crash barrier, is required for all the six major bridges between Dehu Road and Satara and not only for the Neera River bridge. This was revealed through the documents procured under RTI Act by Vinita Deshmukh and other members of Nav Bharat Nagarik Manch, from the NHAI office at Warje.
The major bridges which need urgent repairs, in the light of the terrible tragedy of 2ndNovember, where four ad professionals died, have been identified by the contractor as Pawana Bridge, Mula Bridge, Mutha Bridge, Krishna River Bridge, Venna River Bridge and Neera River Bridge. Repairs have also been recommended for a series of culverts and small bridges.
The letter written by Nagendra Rai, officer of the PS Toll Roads Pvt Ltd to Mr Kaundal, admits that all the major bridges and some of the culverts are ‘unsafe’ for commuters. The letter states, “you are aware that gap between all existing minor/major bridges and slab culvert is not properly closed by cras barrier or extending medial wall up to the level of crash barrier and same is leading to unsafe situation for the traffic.”
Nav Bharat Nagarik Manch is shocked that there is no urgency shown regarding the repair of the Neera Bridge despite the most horrendous tragedy earlier this month.
Instead, the NHAI Pune has washed its hands up stating that such a decision can be taken only by the Delhi office of NHAI. The reason being the statement in the letter in which Rai states, “As per schedule B of Concession Agreement, no scope is defined for improvement/strengthening of the median walls for all existing major/minor bridges and slab culverts.”
This in effect means, that the Reliance Infra’s subsidiary agency, PS Toll Roads Pvt Ltd, is asking NHAI to provide the funds. NHAI Pune in turn says they are not the authority and so the letter has been sent to Delhi.
In the end, Nav Bharat Nagarik Manch is appalled that the final victims are citizens. It has begun the process of procuring documents under RTI to file a public interest litigation (PIL).
(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet – The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart – Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
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.
November 20, 2013
The proposed 19-km ‘Elevated Corridor Project’ connecting Chennai Port and Maduravoyal envisages direct access to the port from the outskirts of the city round the clock without traffic regulations. This will help in the speedy movement of cargo in and out of Chennai Port, the National Highways Authority of India has said in an affidavit in the Madras High Court.
The time required to reach Chennai Port from Maduravoyal through the corridor would be approximately 30 minutes. The project would help in augmenting the revenue of both the Central and State Governments by way of taxes besides improvement of trade, industry and employment.
The NHAI affidavit was in reply to a counter filed by the Chief Engineer of the State Public Works Department, Chennai. The NHAI had filed a writ petition seeking to quash the records of the Chief Engineer, PWD, Water Resource Organisation, of January 28 this year.
By that communication, the PWD had sought revised CRZ clearance for the elevated corridor project. The NHAI said it was aggrieved as the Tamil Nadu Government was putting stumbling blocks in implementing the corridor. The Chief Engineer had earlier filed the counter to the petition.