PWD to spend Rs 1,000 crore to repair roads

October 23, 2013

By Express News Service – BANGALORE


The Public Works Department will spend `1,000 crore to repair highway networks, including district roads, damaged due to heavy rains.

Public Works Minister H C Mahadevappa told reporters here on Tuesday that the department officials are preparing an action plan in this regard. Later, it will be submitted to the Finance Department for release of funds, he added.

About 1,000 km of main district roads and 177 km of State Highway (SH) were damaged badly, the minister said adding the work of repair would be taken up on war footing and would be completed by the end of February.

He said the department has already taken up repair of over 3,000 km stretch of SH in phase I, which is in final stage of completion.

“The phase II will be taken up based on the availability of funds,” he added.

To a question, the minister said the government has cleared an arrears of `250 crore to contractors and another `850 crore yet to be paid.

“The government will take steps to see that all the arrears due to the contractors will be paid soon,” he said.

The Indian Road Congress and PWD are jointly organising a two-day workshop on promoting usage of new technologies, materials, techniques and equipments in road construction here from Wednesday.

Renowned engineers and experts will deliver lectures on the occasion.

Director, Quality, Research and Development, M/s Orafol Europe GmbH, Ireland, Daniel Berger, director Param Preet Singh and DGM Avantech Engineering Consortium, New Delhi, Vikant Raina will also take part in the event, he said.

An exhibition will also be organised on the occasion, he said.


Kochi’s deadly roads show no mercy to pedestrians

October 17, 2013

Gireesh P Krishnan, TNN |




KOCHI: The traffic police, National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), public works department (PWD) and related authorities have to make concerted efforts if they are to going to bring down road accident casualties in the city. Despite their tall claims, the city still witnessed a marginal increase in road accident deaths this year compared to the previous one till September. If road accidents claimed 109 lives in 2013 from January to September, it stood at 102 deaths for the same period last year.May turned out to be cruelest month for pedestrians and motorists this year with 20 dying on city roads. Last year, May in contrast reported only 10 road accident deaths. April was not far behind with 17 deaths reported this year compared with 15 the year before.

Though there has been an overall increase in accident deaths, it has decreased since July compared to the same period last year. While seven died in accidents in July against nine in 2012, it was 10 in August against 14 the previous year, and nine in September compared with 14 in 2012.

“A majority of those who died in road accidents this year were pedestrians. Lack of proper crossings and barricades have been a problem. To address the issue, we have conducted awareness programmes for private bus drivers and auto drivers,” said P P Shams, assistant commissioner, traffic east. He added that NHAI was asked to erect barricades on the median in the NH47 bypass, where most of the pedestrians died in accidents, and to restrict pedestrian crossings to selected points.

While around 40 pedestrians died in road accidents in the first nine months of the year, 20 two-wheeler riders and 15 pillion riders died till October. More people died in accidents that occurred during day time.

Even though accident deaths have gone up this year, there has been a marginal decrease in the number of road accidents. It has declined from 1,732 in 2012 to 1,718 in 2013. According to police, two-wheelers were involved in more than 500 reported accidents.

Roads: clearing obstacles will take time

October 15, 2013

Vatsala Kamat


The Sep quarter too will see earnings of most infrastructure firms being weighed down by high interest and depreciation costs
The government’s desire to give a push to infrastructure projects may result in some relief from the problems of poor order inflows and low financial viability of existing projects. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
(The government’s desire to give a push to infrastructure projects may result in some relief from the problems of poor order inflows and low financial viability of existing projects. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint)


Last week’s decision by the government to reschedule the premium payable by developers to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is aimed at giving jammed road projects a new lease of life. The decision to reschedule the premium arose out of the fact that many developers quoted a hefty premium to win orders, as competition increased between fiscal years 2012 and 2013, which led to some projects turning financially unviable.


No doubt, the decision to reschedule will not change the profile of projects overnight. Analysts’ data indicates that more than 80% of the build-operate-transfer (BOT) projects awarded in fiscals 2012 and 2013 have not started construction yet. It is now widely known that land acquisition and environmental clearances, highly leveraged balance sheets, poor cash flows on existing projects and high interest rates are key reasons for a slowdown in the roads sector.


Around 23 projects caught in a quagmire will be examined on a case-to-case basis. However, a note by Citi Research says that one of the conditions to ensure smooth payments by developers after rescheduling is that the firms should furnish bank guarantees. “Given the tightening lending standards to road projects and leveraged balance sheet of developers, it may be difficult to furnish the bank guarantee,” it says.


As has been the case during the past several quarters, the September quarter too will see earnings of most infrastructure firms including roads being weighed down by high interest and depreciation costs. A report by IDBI Capital Market Services Ltd expects companies such as Hindustan Construction Co. Ltdand IVRCL Ltd to be in the red during the September quarter. And, others such as Simplex Infrastructures Ltd, Nagarjuna Construction Co. Ltd and IRB Infrastructures Developers Ltd are likely to see a decline in earnings compared to the year-ago period. Revenue expansion is likely in some cases where execution is on track.


But analysts’ data reveals that against a normal road completion time of 48 months, most projects awarded in fiscal 2009-10 are complete to the extent of only 50-60%.


Complicating the imbroglio is the fall in order inflows, which could get worse in the near term, given that elections typically see major decisions being postponed. This would stymie revenue expansion too. This fiscal year till date, NHAI has awarded only 479km of road projects costing Rs.2,700 crore, compared to the road ministry’s target of 5,000km of both EPC and BOT projects. EPC stands for engineering, procurement and construction.


Now, the orders that have already been given can mean healthy order book for some firms, giving decent revenue visibility for the next one or two years. Among the mid-sized firms, Sadbhav Engineering Ltd and Ashok Buildcon Ltd are better off than some of their peers.



The government’s desire to give a push to infrastructure projects may result in some relief from the problems of poor order inflows and low financial viability of existing projects. But the pace leaves a lot to be desired and it may be many more quarters before actual and substantial movement is visible. For now, nothing seems to have changed for the roads sector.

Poor infrastructure will affect tourism industry in Jharkhand: CII

October 11, 2013

TNN  |


JAMSHEDPUR: After chief minister Hemant Soren’s candid acceptance of the fact that national highways in the state need immediate face- lift, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) also said tourism industry will get affected if the present condition is not taken care of across Jharkhand.The state chapter of the CII has expressed doubts that the tourism industry in Jharkhand will make profits owing to its poor infrastructure and connectivity.

“We can cite the example of Amadubi tourist spot in Dhalbhumgarh (inaugurated last week by state tourism minister Suresh Paswan). Although the place is just 60km away from the city it over two hours to reach the spot,” said convener, tourism panel, CII, Prabhakar Singh.

Apparently, indicting the government for its lackadaisical attitude in improving the plight of the roads, the CII functionary said there’s no point opening tourist spots in isolated places.

“Proper connectivity through road, rail or air is prerequisite for reaching the tourist spots but in our state we have no rail or road connectivity,” said Singh on Sunday. Conceding, the dilapidated condition of the highways in the state, Soren, on Saturday, said here that he will convene a meeting in one month to work out the modalities for speedy improvement of the condition of the highways in the state.

He also said prolonged delay in the formulation of a vibrant tourism policy is also gradually eating into the potentiality of the tourism industry.

“Several projects that are crucial for the growth of the tourism industry are in limbo,” said Singh adding that law and order is another area that demands immediate attention.

He said lawlessness in the state cannot be judged merely from the prism of the Maoist incidents.

When his attention was drawn to the Union tourism ministry’s report indicating 20 per cent increase in domestic tourists last year in comparison to year 2011, the CII functionary said the report might not be that impressive in 2013.

“Agreed, relatively the number of visitors was high (in 2012) but I wonder what impression have they carried back home,” said Singh.

Centre sanctions Rs1493 cr for roads

October 11, 2013

TNN  |

BHUBANESWAR: The central government has sanctioned Rs 1,493 crore for construction of 2,982-km road in the state under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).

Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh communicated the Centre’s decision to chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday. Ramesh said last year the Centre had sanctioned Rs 2,445.75 crore to Odisha for construction of 5,189-km road. Earlier, this year proposals worth Rs 1,067 crore were sanctioned for 1,184-km road. Jairam’s letter said the state government could send more proposals for road construction before December.

While unhesitatingly approving road construction projects for Odisha, the Union minister expressed doubt over the state government’s ability to execute them. “The execution capacity is a major concern. The state will have to establish a minimum of 20 more project implementation units (PIUs) for expediting the sanctioned road projects. The state is having a workload of about Rs 6,000 crore and has engaged only 50 PIUs, whose capacity is only about Rs 3,125 crore,” Ramesh’s letter reminded Naveen. He also said the state government should send proposals for road connectivity to villages having more than 100 population in 18 IAP districts soon so that they could be approved ‘in the next couple of months’.

Ramesh said Odisha had ‘received unprecedented assistance’ from the Centre in the matter of rural roads. “However, around 13,000 km still remains to be sanctioned, which indicates the magnitude of the challenge,” the Union minister said, adding, the centre was ready to approve projects ‘provided the state government is able to submit the DPRs and expand contracting and implementation capacity expeditiously’.



Governor seeks action on roads in fringes

October 7, 2013


PUNE: Governor K Sankaranarayanan has directed the state Urban Development (UD) department to take appropriate actions to widen roads in the 23 merged villages in the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits.Despite the civic administration approving the road widening proposal, the PMC standing committee continues to let it gather dust. Ujjwala Dandekar, under secretary to the governor, in her letter to the state UD has said, “As per the orders (of governor), the letter submitted by corporator Aba Bagul is being forwarded for necessary action.”

In March 2011, Congress corporator Aba Bagul had proposed that the roads in the merged villages be widened by 50% anticipating the increase in the number of vehicles. Bagul had forwarded the proposal to the standing committee, which had sent it to the civic administration. The villages have a 1,000-km road network. The civic administration agreed to the proposal saying that the plan was feasible and can be implemented.

“Since then the proposal is pending with the standing committee. I requested the municipal commissioner to go ahead with the proposal and start widening roads using his special powers. However, there has been no response on the matter, so far. I approached the governor and urged him to direct the UD to take appropriate action. I hope the PMC will take serious note,” said Bagul.

The Development Plan (DP) for 23 villages merged in the civic limits was prepared in 2000 and the vehicular movement has increased considerably.

The standing committee has to decide and then implementation is possible. The panel’s members said the Congress has to take a stand and support Bagul. “The Congress should take a concrete stand and only then the committee will be able to take decision,” said one of the standing committee members.

However, only one faction of the Congress has expressed opposition to Bagul’s proposal. “I don’t know why some people are opposing the proposal and whose interests will be hampered if it is approved. However, road widening is necessary as merged villages are facing traffic congestion,” said Bagul.



Survey for Silk City ring road begins

September 27, 2013

Hrusikesh Mohanty, TNN |

BERHAMPUR: The proposed 45-km peripheral ring road around the Silk City may be a reality soon. Survey for the long-awaited project started on Monday. The survey to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) was stalled due to enforcement of model code of conduct for urban polls.A Bhubaneswar-based consultant would prepare the DPR after completing the survey while public works department (PWD) would execute the project, said executive engineer, PWD (Berhampur), and nodal officer for the project P K Das.The project was conceived about a decade ago by the Berhampur Development Authority to ease traffic in the city. The project aims at connecting peripheral areas with the city too.

While 13-km Raghunathpur-Ratanpur bypass road would be constructed by the National Highways Authorities of India, 15-km stretch connecting Dakhinapur with Lathi and Haladiapadar and 17-km stretch connecting Mandiapalli-Karapalli and Phulta would be taken up by the works department.

Land acquisition is likely to made in some areas as the width of the ring road is proposed to be 300 metre, including green and commercial zones on side of the road, Das said. The cost of the project would be known only after preparation of the DPR.

The proposed road assumes significance as the city is witnessing heavy traffic congestion during peak hours. “The ring road will not only ease traffic in the city but also make plying of proposed city buses smooth,” said Berhampur Development Authority chairman Kailash Rana. The ring road is also important as the urban body has decided to construct a bus terminal at Haladiapadar, on the outskirts of the town, he added.

The city bus service in Berhampur and its adjoining towns will start soon as the government has sanctioned Rs 5 crore and formed a special purpose vehicle (SPV) for facilitating the project.

Roads regulator close to reality, cabinet nod likely by December

September 25, 2013

Ragini Verma |  Asit Ranjan Mishra

Development comes nearly seven months after finance minister proposed setting up regulator
The roads ministry has set up a task force for looking into the framework of the authority. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
The roads ministry has set up a task force for looking into the framework of the authority
Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint


New Delhi: Nearly seven months after finance minister P. Chidambaram proposed setting up a roads regulator to address challenges such as financial stress, construction risk and contract management issues, the roads ministry is close to finalizing the structure and role of the proposed regulator.


“We will get the cabinet approval for the roads regulator by December,” Vijay Chhibber, roads secretary, told reporters at a conference organized by industry lobby Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.


The ministry of road transport and highways has proposed that the roads regulator have an adjudicatory role for contract dispute resolution, renegotiation of future contracts and enforcement of contractual obligations.


For issues related to renegotiation of existing contracts, tariff structuring and toll mechanisms, project entry and exit options and specific policy issues, the regulator is proposed to play an advisory role.


“Road ministry is working on these terms of reference and the constitution mechanism and organizational structure of the roads regulator is under finalization,” Chhibber said.


The roads ministry has set up a task force for looking into the framework of the authority. The ministry has proposed that the regulator be headed by a board with a chairperson and two members, to whom an executive wing with technical and secretariat support will report.


“Toll-paying users under the current architecture do not get a fair voice. We should have a third party whom users can approach if they are not being provided with the services promised in the contract,” said Chhibber. “Then we are struggling with (contract) renegotiations. A roads regulator will help address these issues.”


Economic affairs secretary Arvind Mayaram, speaking at the same conference, said independent regulators such as in the roads sector are necessary to avoid situations where private parties and government bodies are blaming each other for issues arising out of project implementation.


“Regulators must begin to do this. If there is a concession issue, if there is a problem about the economics of the project which can happen, then we very clearly look at the stress test. It should very clearly look at where culpability lies and some haircut needs to be put in place so that the moral hazard issue is properly answered,” he said.


The roads ministry saw a sharp decline in award of contracts for highways last year. Against a lowered target of 8,100km, only 1,116km of highway projects were awarded.


The ministry will ramp up award of road projects under the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode in the absence of interest from private players for build, operate, transfer projects, Chhibber said.


The ministry is looking to award 6,500km of road projects through the EPC mode in 2013-14, he added.



“The primary role of the proposed road regulator should be appropriate risk and reward allocation between government, developers, lender and especially the users,” said Parvesh Minocha, managing director of the transportation business at infrastructure consultancy Feedback Infra Pvt. Ltd. “If this is done and a proper structure is put in place to implement it then the downstream remedial roles like dispute resolution and failure handling will get significantly reduced.”

Centre clears major road projects in Haryana: Hooda

September 19, 2013

Press Trust of India |

New Delhi: To help ease traffic in NCR, the Centre Wednesday cleared major road projects in Haryana including a Rs 100-crore six-lane flyover along Delhi-Jaipur Highway at Hero Honda Chowk and a new highway from Jhajjar to Dwarka via Dhansa border on Najafgarh drain at the same cost.

After a meeting with Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Oscar Fernandes here, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said the Centre has also enhanced budget allocation under “National Highway (Original)” from Rs 44 crore to Rs 110 crore for upkeep of national highways running in Haryana.

Hooda said that on National Highway 1 on Delhi-Panipat-Ambala route, construction work on the flyover at Bahalgarh Chowk and widening of a bridge near village Rasoi would be awarded to the contractor before December 31, 2013 to help ease traffic.

Centre clears major road projects in Haryana: Hooda(Hooda said the Centre has also enhanced budget allocation under “National Highway (Original)” from Rs 44 crore to Rs 110 crore for upkeep of national highways in Haryana.)

The Chief Minister said the cost of six-lane flyover at Hero Honda Chowk on Delhi-Jaipur road will cost about Rs 100 crore and would be completed within 15 months.

Till the construction of this flyover at Hero Honda Chowk, a convenience shall be provided to people of Gurgaon on both sides of the national highway by providing traffic light system, opening of central verge, proper upkeep and upgradation of service roads and construction of drains.

Hooda said that on his request, the Union Minister for Roadways and Highways and the Secretary Ministry of Road Transport and Highways enhanced the budget allocation under the head “National Highway (Original)” from Rs 44 crore to Rs 110 crore for better maintenance and upkeep of national highways in Haryana.

Fernandes also approved a proposal to construct a highway from Jhajjar in Haryana to Dwarka in Delhi via Dhansa border on Najafgarh drain at a cost of about Rs 100 crore, under Central Road Fund (Inter-state connectivity), he said.

Three main highways connecting Haryana with adjoining states carry very heavy traffic and all three projects of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) on these highways are almost at a standstill, as a result of which highway users are suffering, Hooda said, adding Fernandes directed NHAI to improve maintenance level of roads immediately and complete projects on time.

Haryana Public Works (Building and Roads) Minister Randeep Singh Surjewala and Secretary, Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways Vijay Chhiber were among others who attended the meeting.



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])

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