Meeting With Facebook COO Very Fruitful: PM

July 8, 2014


Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 3 said his meeting with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg was “very fruitful” as they discussed ways to use this platform for governance and better interaction between the people and governments.


“Had a very fruitful meeting with Sheryl Sandberg. She pointed out that India is a very important country for Facebook, considering the high number of active Facebook users in India,” the prime minister said in his Facebook post.

“Being an avid user of social media myself, I talked about ways through which a platform such as Facebook can be used for governance and better interaction between the people and governments. I also talked about how Facebook can be used to bring more tourists to India,” he said.

He also sought Facebook’s assistance in commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

“We intend to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary year with a special focus on cleanliness and I spoke to Ms. Sandberg on how Facebook can assist us in this endeavor,” Modi posted.

Modi is the second most popular politician on Facebook, with over 18 million friends.

Both Modi and Sandberg posted pictures of their meeting on their respective Facebook pages.

Modi is an avid social networking and microblogging site user.


Highlights of Rail Budget 2014

July 8, 2014


Union minister Sadananda Gowda is presenting his first Rail Budget in the Lok Sabha. Here are the highlights :* Indian railways to become the largest freight carrier in the world.

* Social obligation of Railways in 2013-14 was Rs 20,000 crore.

* Gross traffic receipts in 2013-14 was Rs 12,35,558 crore; operating ratio was 94 per cent.

* Focus in past has been on sanctioning projects rather than completing them, Railway minister says.

* Indian Railways spent Rs 41,000 crore on laying of 3,700 km of new lines in last 10 years.

* Fare revision will bring in Rs.8,000 crore; need another Rs.9,000 crore for golden quadrilateral project.
* Railways also proposes to set up Food Courts at major stations.

* Need to explore alternative sources of resource mobilisation and not depend on fare hike alone, Railway minister says.

* Spend 94 paisa of every rupee earned, leaving a surplus of only 6 paisa.

* With 12,500 trains, railways move 23 million passengers every day; equivalent to moving Australia’s population.

Separate housekeeping wing at 50 major stations.

* CCTV to monitor cleanliness activities.

* Mechanized laundry will be introduced.

Dedicated freight corridor on Eastern and Western corridors.

* 5400 unmanned level crossing removed.

* Tourist trains to be introduced to link all major places of tourist interests across the country.

* 4,000 women constables to be recruited to ensure safety of women. 17,000 RPF constables to provide safety to passengers.

* Setting up of Railway University for technical and non-technical study.

* Ultrasonic system to detect problem in track.

Proposal to start Bullet trains on Mumbai—Ahmedabad route. Speed of important trains will be also raised.

* Diamond Quadrilateral project of high speed trains to connect all major metros.

* E-ticketing system to be improved. Future e-ticketing to support 7200 tickets per minute & to allow 120,000 simultaneous users

* ​Wifi in A1 and A category stations and in select trains. Internet-based platform and unreserved tickets.

GIS mapping and digitization of Railway Land. Extension of logistics support to various e-Commerce Companies.

* ​Bulk of future projects will be financed through PPP mode.

* Facilitate transport of milk through rail. Special milk transportation trains in association with Amul and National Dairy Association Board.

One ticket to reach from Delhi to Srinagar. Uddhampur to Banihal by bus and Banihal to Srinagar by train.

* Mumbai local to get 860 new, state-of-the art coaches. 64 new EMUs to be introduced.

* Train connectivity to Char Dham.

* ​Paperless office of Indian railways in 5 years. Digital reservation charts at stations.

* ​ Ready-to-eat meals to be introduced in phased manners.

* 27 Express trains to be introduced.

* 5 Jansadharan , 5 Premium AC trains to be introduced.

Kapsch TrafficCom completed the transaction to acquire Transdyn

January 17, 2014

Transdyn kapsch_logo

Dear Valued Partner,

We are pleased to share with you that effective January 15, 2014, Kapsch TrafficCom IVHS Inc. completed the transaction to acquire Transdyn.

Kapsch and Transdyn are genuinely excited about this acquisition and about our ongoing commitment to the Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) and Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) markets. As a result of this transaction, we bring together a global leader in ETC and ITS systems and with a leader in advanced traffic management solutions and systems integration. This union ensures we will continue to meet the evolving needs of our partners around the world while offering one of the best and broadest ITS portfolios in the industry.

As a current partner of Transdyn, we want to assure you of our commitment to continuity in operations. Transdyn President, Mark Thompson, and his entire team remain available to support your existing business needs. Your Transdyn contacts, and their phone numbers and email addresses, remain unchanged. All Transdyn facility locations and addresses remain the same.

A press release is attached with additional information. In addition, you can learn more about Kapsch by visiting Please contact us should you have any questions or wish to discuss any matter about our partnership.


Chris Murray
Chief Executive Officer
Kapsch TrafficCom IVHS Inc.
[email protected]
Mark Thompson

One pedestrian killed every week in 2013 in Kochi

December 10, 2013

Gireesh P Krishnan,TNN

KOCHI: This certainly is a dubious record that should make the traffic police squirm: In 2013, one person has been killed every week while trying to cross the city streets. In other words, five pedestrians lost their lives every month in 2013 till November with senior citizens accounting for a majority of the casualties.
The number has gone up despite the police and motor vehicles department (MVD) carrying out regular inspections at various places to reign in speeding and negligent driving.

As per the data available with the police, 59 pedestrians died on the city roads up to November this year compared with 49 deaths in 2012. However, pedestrian deaths were really high in 2011 with 72 citizens losing their lives in road accidents.

This year, in the month of November alone 11 pedestrians died after being hit by vehicles on city roads. According to police, majority of pedestrian deaths occurred on National Highway 47.According to police, despite repeated requests the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has not taken any steps to provide zebra crossings for pedestrians on NH. “With pedestrian deaths increasing, we had requested the NHAI and authorities to provide zebra crossings and erect barricades. But there was no response,” said P P Shams, assistant commissioner, traffic west. He added even the road safety council had asked the NHAI to provide zebra lines and erect barricades on the median.

Strikingly, most of the pedestrians killed in accidents this year were aged 50 and above. As per the data, over 30 pedestrians aged 50 and above were killed on city roads this year so far.

“It’s a matter of concern that most those who died in road accidents are aged people. Accidents happen mainly during evening hours. Lack of sufficient light could be a cause as people may not get a clear view of approaching vehicles,” he said. Meanwhile, the NHAI said that zebra crossings alone would not help to address the issue. “Along with zebra crossings, signalling systems should also be provided for pedestrians to cross,” said C T Abraham, project director, NHAI.

Abraham further said that erecting barricades on the median will not be of much use as they are removed by the public periodically at Vyttila Junction.

“In order to enable pedestrians to safely cross roads, foot overbridges are required. The NHAI has already approved five foot overbridges at important junctions, including Vyttila,” said Abraham, adding that the construction of the bridges was likely to start in five or six months.

Borivli man dies in E-way mishap

October 25, 2013


MUMBAI: A 45-year-old man was killed and three others, including a five-year-old boy, sustained severe injuries after the car they were travelling in fell off a bridge at Kiwale near Dehu Road on the Mumbai-Pune expressway on Wednesday night.
The deceased has been identified as Amarnath Mahadev Kalekar, a Borivli resident. The injured include Amarnath’s brother Jagannath (40), his wife Manju (35) and their son Gaurav (5). Investigating officer P P Ahivale said the accident took place around 10 pm.

The Kalekars were heading towards Solapur, the police said. “Amarnath was driving the car,” Ahivale added.

He said when the car approached the bridge, one of its front tyres burst. “It was travelling at speed and Amarnath could not control it,” Ahivale said, adding, “The car turned turtle and fell from the bridge.”

The impact killed Amarnath on the spot. “A police team rushed to the spot and rescued the injured and rushed them to a hospital,” he said.

The Dehu Road police have registered a case of accidental death.



MOU signed between India and China on cooperation in roads and road transportation

October 24, 2013

MOU signed between India and China on cooperation in roads and road transportation





Bejing: The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways of the Republic of India and the Ministry of Transport of the People’s Republic of China, herein after referred to as the ‘Participants’,


Recognizing the significant mutual benefit that can be derived by the Participants from cooperation on roads and road transportation matters;


Recognizing the common objective of developing and promoting safe, efficient, cost effective and sustainable road transportation systems;


Recognizing the importance of roads and road transportation in the economic development process of each Participant country, within their respective national policy framework;


Have reached the following understanding:
Article 1
Principles and Objectives of Cooperation
1. Under the framework of this Memorandum of Understanding (‘Memorandum’), the Participants will undertake cooperation on the basis of equality, reciprocity and mutual benefit.
2. The purpose of this Memorandum is to establish a long-term and effective relationship of communication and cooperation in Roads and Road Transportation.


Article 2
For the purpose of this Memorandum,
a. ‘Road ‘ means the National Highways of the respective countries.
b. ‘Road Transportation’ means transportation of both passengers and goods by road but excludes urban transport.


Article 3
Areas of Cooperation
The Participants will cooperate in the fields of roads and road transportation in the following areas:
a. Exchange and sharing of knowledge and cooperation in the areas of transportation technology, transport policy, for passenger and freight movement by roads;
b. Planning, administration and management of road infrastructure, technology and standards for roads/highways construction and maintenance;
c. Sharing of information and best practices for developing road safety plans and road safety intervention strategies, and outreach activities aimed at reducing deaths and injuries resulting from road accidents, through:
(i) Exchange and sharing of knowledge in Intelligent Transport System;
(ii) Sharing of information and best practices on increasing vehicle safety oversight, and safety fitness framework for the vehicle testing and certification system;
d. Sharing of knowledge and best practices in user fee (toll) related issues; including the modern system, technologies and methods of levying of user fee and collection including Electronic Toll Collection System;
e. Sharing of information in areas of improved technologies and materials in road and bridge construction, including joint research;
f. Sharing the experience on contractual frameworks, financing and procurement issues, particularly related to Public Private Partnerships (PPP) mode;
g. Any other area of bi-lateral cooperation, mutually agreed by the Participants.


Article 4
Ways of cooperation
1. The cooperation under this Memorandum will be carried out through the following ways:
a. Consultations at expert level about specific cooperation issues upon the requests of the Participants;
b. Organizing exchange visits for technical experts;
c. Organizing technical exchanges by way of joint organization of workshops/ seminars/conferences, etc;
d. Exchange of relevant technical materials in accordance with the provisions of the respective laws and regulations and information of policies, laws and regulations;
e. Mutual provision of information relating to transport infrastructure construction projects in their own country;
f. To undertake relevant scientific and technical research in the institutes from both countries including joint research in the identified areas of cooperation.
g. Any other method of cooperation as mutually agreed upon.
2. Whenever necessary, the Participants will discuss and jointly determine the detailed arrangement of the cooperation activities specified in Paragraph 1 of this Article.


Article 5
1. Coordination Organizations:
International Cooperation Wing of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways of the Republic of India and Department of International Cooperation of the Ministry of Transport of the People’s Republic of China will carry out the coordination of activities under this Memorandum;
2. Implementation Mechanism:
a. The Participants agree to constitute a Joint Working Group (JWG) to oversee the implementation of this Memorandum and to identify specific cooperation activities and services under this Memorandum.
b. The JWG will deal with all questions related to the implementation of this Memorandum and resolve the difficulties that might arise in the course of implementation of this Memorandum.
c. The members of this JWG will be nominated by the Participants. The JWG will meet, as per mutual agreement, alternately in China and in India.
d. Where possible and appropriate, the Participants will facilitate the involvement of other institutions and organizations in the cooperation activities under this Memorandum, both in the government and private sectors.


Article 6
The Participants agreed that each government shall bear its own administrative costs for the implementation of this Memorandum. Specific financial procedures will be negotiated for certain cooperation activities as needed. Any contract or separate detailed arrangements for such activities will be jointly determined by the Participants.


Article 7
1. The Participants agreed that prior approval shall be sought of the other participant before the use of any publicity or presentational material by any of the Participants and executive agencies as are allowed to participate under Article 4 of this Memorandum.
2. Scientific and Technical information of a non-proprietary nature derived from the cooperative activities conducted under this Memorandum may be made available to the public through customary channels and, in accordance with, the normal procedures of the Participants, and other governmental entities involved in the cooperative activities.


Article 8
Information and documentation received by either of the Participants as a result of cooperation under this Memorandum within their respective regulatory and legislative framework will not be given to a third party without the prior written consent of the originator. The Participants accept that either Participant may be subject to legal obligations concerning the disclosure of information relating to this Memorandum within their respective regulatory and legislative framework but will nonetheless ensure the other Participant is informed prior to any disclosure subject to the provisions for ‘Confidentiality’ under this Memorandum, wherever applicable.


Article 9
Any dispute about the interpretation or application of this Memorandum will be resolved by consultations between the Participants, and will not be referred to any national or international tribunal or third party for settlement. If the Participants are unable to resolve the dispute, either Participant may terminate this Memorandum in accordance with Article 11 or such shorter period as may be decided between the Participants.


Article 10
Nature of the Memorandum
1. This Memorandum is not legally binding on either of the Participants.
2. This Memorandum will not generate any public/international law obligations for the Participants.
3. All activities developed under this Memorandum are subject to existing laws and regulations of the respective country of the Participants, and to the availability of necessary funds and resources.


Article 11
Entry into Force, Validity, Termination, Interpretation and Amendment
The Participants agree to the following provisions:


1. Entry into Force : 
This Memorandum shall enter into force on the date of its signature and will remain valid for a period of five years and shall be extended by another five years, upon their mutual written consent, at least six(6) months before expiry of the validity of this Memorandum.


2. Amendment to the Memorandum: 
This Memorandum may be amended by mutual written consent of the Participants. Any amendments thereto shall enter into force on the date of signing of such consent.


3. Termination Provision: 
a. The Memorandum may be terminated by either of the Participants at any time by giving sixty (60) days advance written notice to the other Participant.
b. Unless otherwise agreed in written form, the termination of this MOU shall not affect the validity of any ongoing project or activity implemented in accordance with this Memorandum.
c. The Participants will determine how the outstanding matters should be dealt with on the basis of mutual consultation.



When roads are killing fields

September 17, 2013

By Vinod Mathew


Kerala is at it again. The state is seeking ways to downsize the width of the National Highway network under its footprint, from 45 metres to 30 metres even as progressive states have made clear their intention to go by the international benchmark of 60 metres. Such an unreasonable posturing comes at time when the state leads the nation with 13 daily deaths from road accidents, most of them on narrow roads, from head-on collisions. The opposition to wide roads comes largely from a few lobbies of powerful land sharks who have built commercial complexes along narrow roadsides in the thriving business hubs of Malappuram and other northern districts. The state government is so much like a toy in their hands that serious discussion is under way on building sky roads along such stretches where it upsets the high and mighty if the roads get widened.

Ideally, the need to widen and straighten its narrow, serpentine roads should have been flagged by the state itself, considering the gigantic growth of its vehicle population in recent years. The journey from 1,94,567 vehicles in 1980-81 to 60,72,019 in 2010-11 has come at a breakneck speed, with the last year alone adding another 8,21,295 vehicles. Consider the vital statistics: Eight national highways in the state cover a length of 1,524km or only 2.3 per cent of the total national highway network in the country. Even as road accidents numbered 37,072 in 2000, causing 2,710 deaths and leaving 49,403 injured, in 2012 the accidents remained rooted at 36,174 but the number of deaths climbed to 4,286, showcasing what real damage head-on collisions by speeding vehicles on narrow and winding roads can do.

In other words, the state roads have witnessed close to 40,000 deaths and left four lakh injured, many of them maimed for life — a fact that should have shaken the state government into seeking its own ways and means of widening, straightening its roads.

It is in this context that one has to see the latest in a string of hugely parochial demands put forth by the state in a seemingly endless endeavour to set its own standards. It is a given that such demands keep cropping up on occasions that warrant definition of acceptable standards, whether it be for setting up industrial units or going in for infrastructure projects. In essence, no industry is allowed to set base in the state because of heightened pollution fears, though the average Keralite has no qualms about availing benefits of such industries set up in neighbouring states. The mindset holds good in the case of saying no to thermal power projects or large manufacturing hubs that will essentially have as a spin-off, a degree of environmental pollution. Kerala, therefore, has chosen to be a consumer state, leaving it to the other states the little matter of production — whether it be for foodgrain, vegetables, fruits or the many automobiles that it buys in large numbers, the narrow roads notwithstanding.

It is by no means a logical corollary to this thought process, but many Keralites also think it but natural to give a thumbs down when asked to pay toll while motoring through well-carpeted stretches of national highway. Strangely, this does not seem to bother any Keralite once he crosses the border, with many waxing eloquent in an incredulous tone on the rather heavy toll he’s required to pay during a drive to Goa and back. But once he hits the home road, it is all cursing and swearing each time he catches the sight of a toll gate.

Cynics often argue that the bane of Kerala has been its high dose of literacy and the cultural chip-on-the-shoulder many seem to carry while going about their daily business. While these are debatable points, there is no denying the negative impact that the non-resident Keralite (NRK) has had on their kith and kin, as much is persuading them to lead a life of no toil as in making a whole community believe an NRK is so special that an NRI pales into insignificance when faced with the homegrown repatriate. Thus, you have a whole department at the state government-level playing fiddle to the whims of the NRK community, you have the NRK deposits rated at an overwhelming percentage of Kerala’s GDP and of course a real estate sector and a gold jewellery business that catches flu of the highest virulence each time the NRK sneezes.

Therefore, it should have come as no surprise when the state government, led by an unusually belligerent chief minister, pitched wholeheartedly to get airborne an idea that has remained grounded nevertheless. The concept of Air Kerala was thus borne. The purpose — to fly in and fly out all those NRKs, who keep getting annoyed periodically at the highhanded treatment meted out to them by the national flier, Air India, and its country cousin, Air India Express.

Such has been the animosity generated among the NRKs against Air India Express that its management is actively thinking of shifting its headquarters from Kochi to Mumbai or any other location where the chances of Keralites behaving in a normal manner are significantly on the high side.

Even as its airy ideas remain grounded, Kerala refuses to take a serious look at down-to-earth solutions to its daily problems. It continues to turn a Nelson’s eye to passing a law against the stopping of government buses at major curves on its winding roads, said to be one of the causes for major accidents and something that it can set right at no cost to the exchequer. True, such a path-breaking decision can come only if it volunteers to undertake a great re-engineering exercise — one of its mindset. Having said that, it is time the people of the state began taking ownership for many of the woes that have befallen it and stop blaming others, stop looking for unrealistic solutions.

Getting a move on, the first step could be to stop calling hartals at the drop of an umbrella. Because, this stoppage of normal working days has no immediate history of having set anything right, since realistically none of the recent hartals are a throwback on those from the freedom struggle days. If that were the case and the goal behind the hartal a noble one, we would have had at least one hartal calling for widening the Kerala roads as per international standards, as a first step towards metamorphosing the girth and elevation of many murderous roads, so that people could safely venture out, confident that they will reach home by the end of the day.

(The writer is resident editor, The New Indian Express, Kerala. E-mail: [email protected])

Indian firm wins contract to help build highway in Ethiopia

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

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 -

Fernandes lauds HT campaign, bats for toll-free model

September 9, 2013


Sanjeev K Ahuja and Anupam Thapa, Hindustan Times  New Delhi,

Lauding HT’s efforts to bring to light the issues plaguing commuters on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway, Union minister for road transport and highways Oscar Fernandes has acknowledged the fact that the toll plazas have failed to deliver and hoped that the court delivers a favourable verdict in public interest.

The senior Congress leader on Tuesday congratulated the Hindustan Times team for carrying out relentless campaigns on the expressway and its toll plazas when the team met with him in New Delhi to hand over the petitions addressed to him by thousands of disgruntled commuters. He also went through a news report from HT’s ongoing “Taking a Toll” campaign which was started on July 29.

 “There are reports that commuters are harassed at various toll plazas on various roads, but the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway is a different case as we see traffic jams on a daily basis here. This issue is being discussed in the high court and we hope that the decision would come in favour of the commuters. In the case of the expressway, people do not mind paying toll of R21 but they fail to get the benefit of paying the same,” said Fernandes.

The Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka said that his ministry planned to launch a pilot project to test electronic tolling system, which would allow commuters to cross toll plazas without halting, and it, he said, would be implemented across all the national highways if it was successful.

While endorsing his support for the proposed toll-free model in which the commuters are not charged toll and the operator instead earns revenue out of non-toll options such as rentals out of real estate rights and advertisements, Fernandes said that this proposal could be tried as it did not affect revenue inflow for the operator.

The ministry of road transport and highways has zeroed in on Hero Honda crossing on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway and Delhi-Dhasna Road for the project where the operator would be given out realty rights.

The commuters here would not have to pay toll for a trouble-free ride. “It is a good proposal as it does not affect the revenue intake and the commuter also does not need to pay toll,” said Fernandes.



National Highways Authority of India to induct outside professionals

September 3, 2013


NEW DELHI: The Parliament approved a bill seeking to increase the number of members of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) by inducting professionals from outside, with the Rajya Sabha passing it with voice vote on Tuesday.Induction of outside professionals is expected to enhance the capacity of the NHAI to take strategic decision, widen its perspective, bring in the best management practices, and assist in achieving the goal of higher private participation.


The National Highways Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2012 was passed in the Lok Sabha in September last year.

At present the NHAI consists of a chairman, up to five full-time members and up to four part-time members. The Bill seeks to expand the Authority and it will now consist of a chairman, up to six full-time members and six part-time members.

It mandates that at least two of the part-time members must be non-government professionals with knowledge or experience in financial management, transportation planning or any other relevant discipline.




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