December 16, 2013
NEW DELHI: Is it because mostly poor and vulnerable people die on roads that safety policies are taking a backseat in India? At least some global road safety experts and legal luminaries feel so as figures show one person dies in every three minutes from road accidents in the country.
Speaking at a conference on Strengthening Road Safety Legislation in the national capital On Saturday, Delhi High Court judge justice J R Midha said that though India lose over 1.38 lakh lives every year in road crashes the issue has never found traction because mostly “poor” die on roads.
Director of violence and injury prevention at World Health Organization (WHO) Etienne Kurg said that half of the people dying in road crashes cannot afford a car. He observed since majority of the victims are not high profile the road safety issue and policies are not priority in many countries.
Out of the over 12 lakh people killed on roads across the globe, around 50% are pedestrians or cyclists. The pattern is similar in major Indian cities, including Delhi.
Pushing for strong and actionable legislation, experts from WHO and World Bank said that the pending amendment in the Motor Vehicle Act should be passed by Parliament. The amendments mainly focus on increasing penalty for traffic violations and are aimed at reducing fatalities. Globally, increase in penalty and good enforcement has worked in making roads safer.
On Saturday, road transport and highways minister Oscar Fernandes announced government’s vision to reduce deaths by 50%. Fernandes said strengthening motor vehicle related legislation will certainly result in road safety.
However, while regretting for disruptions in Parliament proceedings Fernandes said efforts will be made to get the Motor Vehicle Act passed in the ongoing winter session. “The Bill (Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill) is listed. Every day I am trying that the Bill is passed in Lok Sabha but unfortunately no business is being transacted. In the last two days we will make every effort that it is passed,” Fernades said.
The minister added that if the House is extended by a couple of days then they should be able to take it up.
Amid reports of high fatalities on Indian roads, Krug said that there are countries that have set example of building more roads, adding more vehicles and yet reducing fatalities and crashes. “There is no single magic bullet. There have to be several legislations, enforcement norms and constant monitoring,” he added.
November 5, 2013
Surojit Gupta & Sidhartha, TNN |
The plan, which was being driven by India, will see sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) and pensionfunds invest in securities floated by the World Bank, which will also chip in with resources. The multilateral agency is looking to raise resources from middle income countries.
This corpus will then be used for lending to infrastructure projects, with the cost of funds lower than what is usually paid when developing countries or their companies raise resources from the markets, said a source familiar with the matter.
Pension funds and SWFs can hope to earn better returns than what they earn by parking funds in developed countries. And, by investing the funds with the World Bank, they transfer the risk which they would have had to take had they invested directly in developing countries.
“The World Bank is receptive to the idea and so is a majority of the membership,” said an official who did not wish to be identified. Sources said the corpus and other modalities would be finalized once the structure is worked out in detail.
In April, finance minister P Chidambaram had said that the World Bank had asked two of its managing directors to put together a paper on the issue after discussions took place in Washington.
If the move goes through in the autumn meeting, it will be a big boost for developing countries which have been hit by fears of an adverse impact of the US Federal Reserve’s moves to withdraw the stimulus package. The new lending window can help meet their fund requirements – especially for long-term resources – at a very reasonable cost.
The government has estimated that India alone needs $1-trillion funding to build roads, power plants, ports and airports during the five-year period ending March 2017, with nearly half the investment coming from the private sector.
October 31, 2013
The World Bank has approved a $500 million loan for the National Highways Inter connectivity Improvement Project in India to improve the national highway network’s connectivity with economically lagging and remote areas.
The project will focus on three low-income states – Rajasthan, Bihar and Orissa – and on less developed regions in Karnataka and West Bengal, a press release from the Bank said.
The release said that, In recent years, there has been an increasing recognition of the importance of improving transport connectivity in remote and economically lagging areas which do not fall under the National Highways Development Programme (NHDP).
“Some 43% of the primary highway network, also known as the non-NHDP network, has been identified for development. Considerable stretches of the non-NHDP network requires strengthening and upgradation, and suffer from connectivity gaps. Substantial portions of these roads are intermediate or single-lane highways and have poor traveling conditions,” it said.
“Over the years India’s core highway network has seen significant improvement. However, over 40% of thenetwork suffers from major connectivity gaps and requires better maintenance and upgradation. These roads often serve as the primary or the sole transport link to several remote and economically lagging regions. By providing better connectivity and strong institutions, the project will help states achieve fastersocial and economic benefits,” said Mr Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director for India.
The National Highways Interconnectivity Improvement Project, approved on October 29, will upgrade and widen about 1,120 km of existing single/intermediate lane National Highways to two-lane in Bihar, Orissa and Rajasthan and in less developed regions of Karnataka and West Bengal.
Other key components of the project include enhancing the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) to better manage the highway network.
Recognizing that road safety is a critical issue in the country today, the project will strengthen road safety management systems with the objective of reducing fatalities and serious injuries from road accidents in the country.
“Road safety in India continues to be a major concern. Road accident death rate in India is ten times the levels seen in the European Union and is costing the economy an estimated 3% of the GDP on an annual basis. This project will focus on road safety by strengthening capacity, improving data collection and training,” Mr Ruhl added.
The project will focus on improving road accident data collection and analysis at central and state levels through implementation of the Road Accident Database Management System (RADMS) in project states; strengthen road safety capacity at the central level; and focus on training.
“The project will contribute to economic growth both locally in the project area and at the regional level by removing barriers to connectivity. It will develop priority highways within the non-NHDP network; implement a range of contracting and institutional reform measures; and will have specific interventions for process improvements, network monitoring and management, and updating of standards and specifications, with particular emphasis on road safety,” said Mr Pratap Tvgssshrk, senior transport specialist and the project’s task team leader.
Overall the project will help road users have improved access to highways and transport services and benefit from the savings in travel time and transportation costs. Other expected positive outcomes of the project include improved access to a larger number of economic opportunities, better health services, better access to higher levels of education, and improved road safety.
The loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 5-year grace period, and a maturity of 18 years, the release added.
October 11, 2013
By Rachita Prasad, ET Bureau
Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport for preparing a master plan for developing eastern parts of the metropolitan region.The plan would look at developing the 126-km long Virar-Alibaug Multi-Modal Corridor, which was highly recommended by the Comprehensive Transportation Study conducted by the MMRDA and funded by the World Bank.
“We are sure that the Virar-Alibaug corridor which passes through the eastern part of Mumbai metropolitan region will trigger urbanization along the corridor and a master plan for the areas around this corridor will be necessary for its orderly development. The study will also identify growth centers which will afford stability to the spill-over areas”, Ashwini Bhide, additional metropolitan commissioner, MMRDA, was quoted as saying in the release.
The Korean team will share best practices with MMRDA’s planners and work out a detailed master plan and land development models along with funding patterns beginning January 1, 2014. The plan, development models and the funding patters will then be submitted to the state government, for approval, within a period of one year.
The study will be financed by the Korean Government and will also involve training of high level officials of MMRDA. The study will enable MMRDA approach global funding agencies such as World Bank and Japanese Cooperation Agency (JICA) for funding of the project.
“The Korean model of land use development has faced similar constraints as are being faced in India and could be suitably modified and used in developing the eastern Mumbai metropolitan region, especially around the Multi-Modal Corridor. By roping in the Korean expertise and best practices we will be able to use the land itself as a resource to fund our infrastructure requirements”, said Bhide.
October 8, 2013
State government has also stepped up funding, says Highways Secretary
The State is likely to get World Bank funding of Rs.8,583 crore for upgrading roads covering 1,678 km in identified areas, Highways and Minor Ports Secretary, Rajeev Ranjan, said here on Monday.
Delivering the inaugural address at the 11 edition of ‘Suminfra 2013’, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), he said the State government had also stepped up funding for improving roads as part of a general initiative on infrastructure development to sustain economic growth. During the current year, Rs.2,980 crore has been earmarked under the Comprehensive Road Infrastructure Development programme, against Rs.2,200 crore in the corresponding period last year. According to him, the objective of the programme is to upgrade over 2,000 km of six-lane roads to eight lanes and 5,000 km of four-lane roads to six. The Tamil Nadu Infrastructure Development Board, at its first meeting, has allocated Rs.65 crore for detailed project reports and feasibility studies for road projects, he said.
Planning & Development Secretary S. Krishnan said despite the overall slowdown in lending for large projects, the State government has a clear plan to focus on infrastructure projects. It was estimated that over Rs.15 lakh crore funding would be needed for investment in infrastructure over the next 10 years and the State was prepared to go ahead with public funding initially. The government has set up 14 expert panels in various areas relating to infrastructure such as transactions, technology and commercial advisors to guide the implementation of infrastructure project across sectors. Government agencies can engage these panels to guide them, he said.
Paritosh Gupta, Chief Executive Officer, IL&FS, said the number of infrastructure projects and type of investments India had been targeting were not unrealistic or beyond the reach of the country’s capabilities.
September 17, 2013
An India-based consulting company has won a $1.46 million contract for consultation and supervision of the construction of the 133 km Kombolcha-Mille highway project in Ethiopia.
The company, Intercontinental Consultants and Technocrats Pvt. Ltd. (ICT) is working in a joint venture with the Ethiopia-based Civil Works Consulting Engineers. It has been in Ethiopia for 17 years and has undertaken more than 25 road projects with the Ethiopian Roads Authority (ERA). “We have worked with ERA on various projects like this and we never failed them, I guess that is why we are going to undertake this project as well,” Saurabh Sharma, country manager of the company, told IANS.
Indian firm wins contract to help build highway in Ethiopia “The fact that the people we are working with are polite and ready to learn keep us going back to work with them,” he said adding, “Indian companies are known for delivering projects on time”. ICT India won the bid against five companies. “ICT India offered a lower price and, at the same time, surpassed other competitors in the technical evaluation,” an ERA official told IANS on condition of anonymity.
At this point, the road exists in the form of a gravel road. “It will thus be upgraded to asphalt, which will smoothly and efficiently accommodate traffic flow and enhance the region’s economic activities,” said the official. “The project that connects the Amhara Regional State with the Afar Regional State will be funded with a loan acquired from the World Bank (WB),” he said. The road is expected to be used as an import-export route as it would reduce the travel time to the Port of Djibouti. Sharma said his company is planning to participate more in international projects to increase its business.
Source - http://ibnlive.in.com
September 12, 2013
The World Bank has approved two financing packages worth a total of US$ 318 million to support road improvement projects and low income housing development in India.
The bulk of the funds – US$ 216 million – will support construction of the government’s Stage Transport Project II (KSTP II) in the south-western state of Kerala.
The funds will be used to upgrade 363 km of strategically important state highways. Of the 4,340 km of Keralan highways, around 70% are still single-lane with 54% in poor condition, according to the World Bank.
Another financing package worth US$ 100 million will be used to support India’s national Low Income Housing Finance Project through the National Housing Bank.
The World Bank estimates that India’s urban population will hit 600 million by 2031 – more than double that in 2001. Housing shortages in India are also acute: the 2012 urban housing backlog was estimated at 19 million, indicating that one fourth of the urban dwellers are living in inadequate housing or are homeless.
Onno Ruhl, World Bank country director for India said, “This project will allow low-income households to switch from expensive informal finance to longer-term, formal sources for their housing needs. This we expect will contribute to an average increase in incomes of people at the bottom of the pyramid.”
August 14, 2013
Clara Lewis, TNN |
MUMBAI: The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) is considering four options for constructing the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link (MTHL) after the latest round of bidding failed to elicit interest from construction firms.
The MTHL is a 22-km sea link between Nhava and Sewri that will connect Mumbai to the hinterland and offer a quick getaway to Pune, Nashik and Goa.
The four options under consideration include a direct cash contract wherein the government foots the bill; the developer constructs the sea link and is paid back in annual installments; taking up the project under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) where the Centre will bear 35% of the cost, the state government 15% and the implementing agency (MMRDA) will bear 50% of the cost; and approaching either the World Bank or the Japan International Cooperation Agency for a loan on the lines of the loan for the Mumbai Urban Transport Project.
Senior MMRDA officials said within a month the proposals will be placed before chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, who also heads MMRDA.
The project was proposed in the 70s. However, the first serious attempt to build the bridge was made in 2008 but it fell through because of a dispute between the Ambani brothers. For the third time the government failed to get any bids for the bridge.
The project was to be developed on a build-operate-transfer basis in which the developer was to quote a price with interest, which he would recover in 35 years after building the link over five years. To address some of its financial risks, the Union finance ministry has sanctioned viability-gap funding to the tune of Rs 1,920 crore for the project.
A source said one of the reasons that no bid was made for the project was the uncertainty over the proposed international airport in Panvel. “If the airport does not take off then the projected 60,000 vehicles traversing the bridge daily will also not happen which makes the project will become unviable,” said a source.
August 5, 2013
The decision follows a World Bank investigation and review of poorly performing road construction contractsunder the bank-financed project, for which CES was the supervision consultant, the bank said in a statement on Friday.
Consulting Engineering Services (CES) will not qualify for any contract financed by the World Bank Group during the five-year debarment, which came into effect on Friday.
“The debarment is part of a Negotiated Resolution Agreement between the World Bank and CES that addresses misconduct that occurred under CES’s former ownership and former management. The settlement resolves an investigation into allegations that CES defrauded the Highway Project and received bribes from construction contractors on the Project,” the statement said.
CES has agreed not to contest that its engineers approved forged and falsified invoices to support advance claims for payment under the contracts, in part in exchange for receiving improper cash payments and other things of value for their personal benefit.
The company also agreed not to contest the fact that the bid submitted by its former management and former owners for the supervision contract contained falsified credentials of its proposed staff.
In addition to conducting its own internal investigation, CES has fully cooperated with the World Bank Integrity team and has begun reforming its corporate compliance program.
“This case demonstrates the World Bank’s strong commitment to manage corruption risks and the progressive shift we are making in promoting corporate compliance,” said Leonard McCarthy, World Bank Integrity Vice President. “Companies, like CES, who, when notified of misconduct, self-investigate and take actions against wrongdoers offer a good example.”
The debarment may be converted to conditional non-debarment at the end of the first 24 months if CES fulfils its obligations under the agreement, the World Bank said.
July 30, 2013