Thursday, May 26th, 2022 03:42:31

India: Emerging hub of world-class transport sector

By Vaibhav Dange
Updated: January 3, 2022 10:03 am

India has a huge highways sector. Out of roughly 5 million kilometres of a road-web spread throughout the country,National Highway contributes about 1.46 lakh kilometres. India has the second largest road network in the world. Besides, the robustness of the network can be gauged from the fact that these roads carry more than 60 percent of total goods traffic in the country. In 2014, the roads sector was under tremendous stress; developers and concessioners were staring at large volumes of NPAs. NHAI had more than 200 languishing/ stalled and delayed projects, worth more than 2 lakh crores. Hon’ble Prime Minister Modi and Minister for Highways, Nitin Gadkari, took on this challenge head on. They had clear vision that Road Network is the artery of the Nation.

Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highways (MORTH) has just released the data of record 3,979 km of highway construction in the concluded fiscal year of 2019-20. The construction pace has seen a steady growth. The feat becomes all the more important, when economy is slowing down due to COVID 19 pandemic.  This achievement was possible only because of focussed and sustained intervention from highest levels, both at administrative and political level.

From Policy Paralysis to Proactive Governance:

The 2nd term of UPA has been marked with policy paralysis. The highway sector has also been no different than other sectors of economy. The last quarter of 2013-14 has seen pace of construction sliding down to as low as 3 km per day. In 2014, when Prime Minister Modi led government came to power and Mr Nitin Gadkari became Highways Minister, India has seen unprecedented pace of highway development. The process of this change began with Minister setting target of pace of construction of highways to 30 km per day and highway sector contributing more than 2% to the GDP growth. The first step was to increase the length of National Highways from 96000 km in 2014 (which was less than 2% of total road network in India) to more than 146000 km in 2019-20. Over the last five years, Ministry of Highways has constructed about 40,000 km of National Highways and awarded 60,000 km of National Highways work worth Rs.7,36,000 crores. The average rate of road building activity has been 31 kms per day.

Fasttrack decision making, innovative approach, transparency and zero tolerance towards corruption have been hall mark of this new culture of governance.  This was possible because of large number of initiatives that have been rolled out at grassroot level. Reviving stalled projects, streamlining of land acquisition and acquisition of major portion of land prior to invitation of bids were some of the key initiatives. Along with these initiatives, the change in work culture, with steps like award of projects after adequate project preparation in terms of land acquisition, clearances etc, disposal of cases in respect of Change of Scope (CoS) and Extension of Time (EoT) in a time bound manner and close coordination with other Ministries and State Governments have been further accelerating highway development. Contrary to the general perception about government either of not punishing the guilty, or appreciating excellence, contractors were given bonus if they completed the work before schedule, on every day saved, and were penalised on delay of every single day. Redressal of grievances of all the stakeholders at highest level has been aroutine exercise. Right from shift in work culture, every possible challenge was addressed. Innovation in construction process by more mechanisation, new materials, methods with emphasis on use of new technology and equipment have been giving positive result.

Policy Initiatives:

Number of policy initiatives were introduced at the highest level to bring the highway sector on growth trajectory. Cabinet took more than 22 policy decisions, with intention to revive the languishing projects.


Financial reforms:

1).One Time Fund Infusion Scheme (OTFIS): Because of delay in land acquisition, approvals by various government agencies had derailed the financial health of projects and concessioners. Most of developers were short on equity and banks were not ready to lend further, resulting in huge cost escalation of project cost and large amount of highway loans had become NPAs. Cabinet empowered NHAI to provide financial assistance to the contractor/ concessionaire in the form of a working capital loan for projects that had achieved at least 50 % physical progress, with right of first discharge on the revenue. This has saved the government from Rs 15000 crores of cost escalation. Private sector revived took off again.

2). 100% equity divestment two years after start of operations

3).To ease out private sector equity and increase private sector participation in the highway sector, developers were allowed to take out their entire equity from all operational BOT projects two years from start of operations. Unearthing large amount of private sector equity which was plough back in new PPP projects.

4). Innovative Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM)

The stress on banking sector was clearly visible which in turn had impact on liquidity for the private sector. This demanded out of box innovative thinking. As per the Hybrid Annuity Model, 40% of the Project Cost would be provided by the Government as ‘Construction Support’ to the private developer during the construction period and the balance 60% would be paid as annuity payments over the operations period, along with interest on outstanding amount. The payable interest rate would be linked to market rates (Bank Rate +3.00%). The Model has been successful in reviving PPPs in the sector which is evident in the interest being shown by the market for such projects. This new HAM model of PPP in infrastructure is now being followed by various ministries like, railways, Namami Gange and Urban Development and some state governments.

Streamlining Procedures:

Minimum Government Maximum Governance has been the call of Prime Minister. This called for simplifying and streamlining of procedures. The mantra of bringing in change in culture of execution for the ministry was: delegate, simplify, involve stake holders, use of technology for transparency and time bound deliveries. In Minister’s words:“Communication, Coordination and Cooperation amongst stake holders is must”. This was followed by building capabilities of implementing agencies as well private sector to make sure the chain is not broken at any stage.

1). Increased threshold for project appraisal and approval: Ministry was authorized to appraise & approve projects up to Rs 1000 crore (earlier Rs 500 crore). Further delegation of powers was made after approval of Bharatmala Phase I in Oct. 2017, resulting in saving of more than 3 months procedure delays in approval of projects.

2). Mode of delivery: Ministry further delegated similar powers to NHAI and implementing agencies. These of powers has helped in fast-tracking decision making.

3). Enhanced Inter-Ministerial coordination: Group of Ministers on Infrastructure was created, under Chairmanship of the Minister Highways, to resolve inter-ministerial issues. Most of the issues started getting resolved in no time, which earlier used to take years.

4). Grand Challenge Mechanism: Under Bharatmala Parijoyna, 10% of the funds were ear-marked under the Grand Challenge mechanism for the State Governments where sufficient and timely land was made available. This fast tracked the projects.

5). Streamlining Land Acquisition: Land Acquisition has been expedited by bringing the awards and their disbursal in consonance with the principles of the RFCT LARR Act, 2013. The Ministry has issued comprehensive guidelines on Land Acquisition for NHs vide letter No. NH-11011/30/2015-LA dated 28.12.2017, to simplify the complex issues of land acquisition, viz. applicability of certain provisions of RFCTLARR Act 2013 on NH Act 1956, date of determination of market value of land, issue of multiplication factor, bulk acquisition through consent of land owners, etc. Single CALA account has been opened to improve financial efficiency. NHAI ROs have been empowered to appoint supplementary arbitrators in high case load districts for speedy resolution of disputes.

6).  Bhoomi Rashi: A web utility for land acquisition related processes, called Bhoomi Rashi, was developedto move towards total e-governance and reduce processing time.The web utility has been linked with the e-gazette platform of the Ministry of Urban Development, for e-publication of land acquisition related Gazette Notifications. The affected/ interested parties are given an access to the system so as to track the status of their acquired land and the CALA(s) in different states have beentaken on board to deposit the compensation amount in the respective accounts of affected/ interested person. As a result of BhomiRashi initiative, there has been a 4 times growth in land acquisition since 2015. Land acquired for building roads in Year 15-16 was 6432 hectares, which increased to 263089 hectares according to Bhoomi Rashi Portal in 2020. Time taken to notify land has come down from 3-4 months to 2 days.  The Bhoomi Rashi portal comprises details of 724 districts, 6494 sub-districts (tehsil/taluka) and 6,57,424 villages of the country. The pace of notifications has been fast-tracked. For the Kartarpur corridor, the CALA uploaded the draft notification for 23 hectares of land on Jan 19 and approval of the Ministry, as well as the e-gazette notification was completed in 2 days. The next notification for 21 hectares of land was uploaded by CALA on January 31 and the e-Gazette notification was issued on the same day.

7). Bidder Information Mana-gement System (BIMS): A Bidder Information Management System (BIMS) has been rolled out by the Ministry. The BIMS has expedited the process of pre-qualification of the bidders for procurement of highway contracts in EPC/ HAM/ BOT modes, resulting in bringing more transparency in tendering and saving precious time.

8). Guidelines for alignment of National Highways: The Ministry has issued detailed guidelines for determination of proper alignment of NH projects, advising executing agencies to examine the feasibility of a green-field alignment, especially in the case of economic corridors, instead of widening existing highways. This has been done keeping in view that expansion of an existing highway involves acquisition of land for Right of Way (RoW), shifting of utilities, demolition of built-up structure and tree-felling, all of which involves a lot of time and cost.

9). Launch of Annual Awards for Excellence in National Highways Sector: Annual awards for excellence in National Highways sector have been instituted for recognizing concessionaires and contractors who have been performing exceptionally well. These awards are designed across five categories: construction management, operation and maintenance, best toll plaza, safest highway, innovation in design and construction technology.

10). Highway Capacity Manual: India’s first Highway Capacity Manual developed by CSIR-CRRI was launched this year. The manual is designed to be a tool for guiding road engineers and policy makers in the country.

 

Raising Finances, the Gadkari Way:

With resolution of the challenges of the sector, the pace of construction has started showing results. This has also put pressure on leadership on ensuring that adequate budgetary support is provided to make sure that this pace continues and accelerates further. With his experience of raising finances innovatively for India’s first Mumbai Pune Expressway, Minister Gadkari has been guiding light in breaking the myth that government does not have requisite funds. Today highway sector is one sector which has seen steady increase in expenditure, year on year. The table below gives an indication:

This was followed by a sustained  focus on raising finances through new ways and instruments which has seen huge investments by both the private sector and the government. The few innovations have been path breaking and is now being followed by other sectors as well.  Some of the innovative instruments used are below:

1). Masala Bonds: Targeting mobilization of funds, NHAI launched an issue of Masala Bonds at the London Stock Exchange in May 2017. The Masala Bond saw an overwhelming response from a wide spectrum of investors. The initial benchmark issue of Rs 1500 crore was upsized to Rs 3000 crore. Asia contributed 60 percent and Europe 40 percent of subscription. 61 percent of the amount is from fund managers or insurance funds, 18 percent from banks and 14 percent from private banks.

2). Toll-Operate-Transfer (TOT): The Ministry is monetizing its road assets through Toll-Operate-Transfer (ToT) scheme. The scheme envisages bidding of bundled national highways for a concession period of 30 to concessionaires against, upfront payment of a lump-sum amount. O&M obligations is with the concessionaire during the concession period. The first bundle comprised 09 projects, totalling 681 km of roads in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat. It was awarded in 2018 to Macquarie for Rs. 9,681 Crore, which was about 1.5 times the NHAI’s estimates. Subsequent bundles are now being bid out in the market.

3). MoU between NHAI and the SBI: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the State Bank of India to receive Rs.25,000 crore as a long-term, unsecured loan for 10 years.

 

Painting a larger canvass:

The Prime Minister and Minister had a large picture clearly visible in their mind as the  infrastructure backlog of last more than 65 years had to be addressed in less than ten years. This backlog was holding up India from exploring its true economic potential. The gap in logistics was making our businesses non-competitive globally. An ambitious Highway Development Program, Bharatmala Pariyojna, is being undertaken by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. The Bharatmala is an umbrella highway development program. It envisions boosting the efficiency of the National Corridor (Golden-Quadrilateral and NS-EW corridor) by decongesting its choke points by lane expansion, building new ring roads, bypasses, elevated corridors and logistics parks. The program consisting of 60,000 kms of highway development, with first phase development of 24800 kms, with investment of more than 10 lakhs crores. This program includes constructing 6,000 km long inter corridor and feeder routes, 2,000 km of border and international connectivity roads, 5,000 km to be upgraded under the national corridor efficiency programme, 800 km of greenfield expressways, 9,000 km under the national highway development programme and 2,000 km of coastal and port connectivity roads.

This shall ensure National Highway connectivity to all district headquarters, addressing 185 choke points on National Highways, 28 ring roads, 45 bypass and 34 lane expansion projects. Rs  11,000 crore have been allotted to rectify 726 black spots which were most accident prone. Under SethuBharatham, 208 RoBs/RuBs are under construction over railway crossings, making all national highways crossing free. About 1500 old bridges are being repaired. With the help of IBMS (Integrated Bridge Management System), 172517 bridge’s data base has been built. With the help of this data base, all the vulnerable bridges were identified and repairs have been initiated. Roads in the hilly states have been strengthened by use of cross barriers to prevent road accidents. The programme has been designed to bridge the gaps in the existing highways infrastructure so as to make the movement of man and material more efficient.Bharatmala will grant India 50 national corridors as opposed to the six right now. With this, upto 80 per cent of freight shall travel along the Indian National Highways as against the 40 percent at present. The project shall connect 550 districts in the country through the National Highway linkages against the existing number of 300.This shall not only ensure for free and fast flow of material for the Industry but shall also help them make globally competitive paving way for more and more foreign companies looking at India as preferred investment destination. The ultimate aim is to make an Indian truck to travel 700-800 kms daily, as compared to present level of 250-300 kms per day. Government has also rolled out smart-tag based e-tolling to end delays at toll plazas. The NHAI is also taking extraordinary steps like facilitating online sale of FASTAGs and offline sale through Common Services Centre (CSC) near toll plazas.

The Highway Development has huge potential of generating employment.A roughestimates suggest that under BharatMala, employment for 500 million man-days will be generated. This would be mean average of nearly 125 million man-days yearly from 2018-2022. This man days shall generate employment for approximately 35 million skilled labour man-days and 80 million semi-skilled and un-skilled man days. The cascading effect shall lead to generation of indirect employmentopportunities also.

 

Greater priority on road safety:

Every year India is witnessing more than 5 lakh accidents annually, with more than 150000 lives lost on roads. For the first time, a multi-pronged approach has been adopted by the government, based on the 4 ‘Es’ of Engineering, Enforcement, Education and Emergency Care. This includes better and safer road engineering, more effective legislation, improved vehicular safety standards, training of drivers, improved trauma care and generating public awareness. Several initiatives have been taken in the last three years to ensure safety on roads. These include:

1). IT network in RTO offices: All RTOs in 36 States/Union Territories have been connected through IT network to issue Vehicle Registration Certificates (VAHAN) and Driving Licenses (SARTHI).

2). District Road Safety Comm-ittees: DRSC has been constituted in each district of the country under   the   local  MP to promote safety awareness.

3). Identification and rectification of road accident black spots: The Ministry established “Road Safety Cell (Engineering) (RSCE) in August, 2015 to exclusively work on Road Safety Engineering. The Ministry has so far identified 789 road accident black spots in various States, of which 651 are on National Highways and 138 are on State roads. 189 spots have already been rectified and sanctions for rectification of 256 spots accorded till date, which are in different stages of bidding/ progress.

4).Guidelines for setting up Driver Training Schools in districts: The Ministry has been working in association with States, Vehicle manufactures and NGOs for strengthening the driving training. Institute of Driving training and Research (IDTRs), Regional Driving Training Centres (RDTCs) and Driving Training Centre (DTC) have been established which act as model Driving Training Centres with state of art infrastructure. A scheme for creating driving training centres in all the districts of the country and support refresher-training programme for heavy commercial vehicles drivers has been launched. In addition, Model Institutes of Drivers Training and Research (IDTR) are being set up in States/UTs.  So far 24 (nos.) IDTRs have been sanctioned in different States/UTs, of which 16 are complete and functioning.

5). Sukhad Yatra App and Toll-Free Emergency Number: A mobile App and Toll- free Emergency number 1033 for highway users, developed by NHAI, were launched in March this year. The service has also been integrated with ambulance/ tow away services along the roads. The Sukhad Yatra mobile application provides information on toll gates. The key feature of the app includes a provision for the user to enter road quality-related information or to report any accident or pothole on the highway. It also provides users with real-time data related to waiting time expected at toll plazas and various facilities. The app can also be used to purchase FASTAGS

6). Rs. 5 Lakh Compensation to accident victims: In order to help accident victims in getting reasonable and fast compensation from insurance companies, the Ministry revised the relevant rules of the Motor Vehicles Act, according to which every accident victim or his next of kin will be entitled to a compensation of Rs 5 lakh in case of death, and upto Rs 5 lakh, proportionate to the extent of injury, in case of grievous hurt and disablement. Accident victims can claim higher compensation through court if they are not satisfied, but even the poorest of the poor will get a fast and reasonable compensation with this rule being in place now.

7). CCTV installation at Toll Plazas: A Central Command and Control Centre is being set up at the NHAI HQ for CCTV surveillance and Monitoring of Vehicular Congestion at 210 Fee Plazas of National Highways that have higher traffic volumes. It is proposed to be connected with Regional Offices and the project execution is on service model for a period of five years.

The Ministry has been making concerted efforts to address the problem of road safety through a series of measures that include improving road infrastructure, road safety audits, identification and rectification of black spots on roads and strengthening the automobile safety standards, organizing road safety awareness programmes and strengthening enforcement etc. These efforts have started showing some results.  The number of accidents have come down considerably over the past five years. But still the numbers are too high.

Initiatives in the transport sector:

The transport sector has been awaiting reform from last 65 years. Citizen have been at the receiving end of this sector. Visiting Regional Transport Office for getting driving licence or registering a vehicle has been a nightmare. It was a den of corruption. This government took several initiatives in the transport sector during the last six years to make road travel more convenient for people and to introduce transport sector related reforms.

1). Amendment to Motor Vehicles Act: The old Motor Vehicle Act was amended by parliament bringing in much required reforms in the sector. Lot of these reforms though looked simple but have been very important for making life simpler for common citizen. Penalties for violation of statues were made stringent. Unfortunately many of the States have diluted the penalty provisions to play to the gallery.

2). Simplification of Driving License Application: To improve ease in licensing, driving license application form has been simplified. Four forms i.e. (a) Learner License, (b) Driving License, (c) Renewal of License, and (d) updation of Address – all have been consolidated into one. The new form will enable Aadhar based verification of the applicant’s identity to provide online services for renewal, change of address etc. Another highlight of the new form is that it would capture an applicant’s willingness for organ donation.

3). Revision of Axle Weight: While automobile technology and road construction quality have improved greatly over the years, the axle loads have remained the same since 1983, when they were last notified. There was a need to harmonize the axle load with international standards. Accordingly, the permissible safe axle weight of goods vehicles was revised and increased by about 15% to 20% for different configurations of axles. The decision was taken with a view to help in increasing the carrying capacity of goods transport vehicles and bring down logistics cost. The amendment will increase the carrying capacity of goods vehicles by about 20-25 % and lower logistics costs by about 2%. It is also expected to bring down the incidence of overloading.

4). Safety of Passengers: With a view to enhancing the safety of women passengers, Vehicle Location Tracking Device and Emergency Button has been made compulsory in all public service vehicles. The Command and Control Centres in the States will be used to provide interface to various stakeholders such as State emergency response centre, the Transport authorities of the state and central governments, device manufacturers and their authorized dealers, testing agencies etc.

5). Fitness Certificate in respect of Transport Vehicles: To improve the fitness and safety of vehicle, renewal of the fitness certificate in respect of transport vehicles up to eight years old shall be done for two years and for one year for vehicle older than eight years.

 

Green Initiatives:

The World Economic Forum has listed climate change associated risks at the top of the global risk. In a world driven by fossil fuels for over a century, sustainability is a big casualty as increasingly evidenced by growing impact of climate change on account of growing carbon emissions from economies.

India’s growth into a significant economic power is expected to drive huge demand for energy resources and infrastructure over the next decade. India has an opportunity to lead the world by adopting a responsible and sustainable path to meet its growing energy demand. This approach will call for a comprehensive thinking on creating a carbon mitigated energy eco system with significantly reduced carbon footprint. India is a major importer of fossil fuels and over 80% of our fossil energy needs are imported. A business as usual scenario indicates this figure will reach 90% level by end of decade. The immediate intervention was required to reduce vehicular pollution by bringing in stricter emission regime and promoting Green and Bio Mobility.

1). Implementation of BS-VI Emission Norms: India has become first country to leap frog to BSVI emission norms from BSIV. Bharat Standards-VI (BS-VI) emission norms have been implemented from 1stApril 2020 for all vehicles. Necessary investments of more than Rs 50000 crores have been made by oil companies to provide clean fuel.

2). Use of Dual Fuel: World over, vehicles are being manufactured by leading manufacturers compliant with dual fuel usage, with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or Bio-Compressed Natural Gas (Bio-CNG) or Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) engines. Brazil has been leader in this; learning from their experiences this has been adopted in India. Notification was issued for mass emission standards for flexi fuel ethanol E85 and ED95. This Notification will enable vehicle manufacturers to manufacture vehicles running on bio-ethanol E85 and ED95.

3). Bio-CNG and Bio-Diesel: Government has defined norms for the use of Bio CNG for testing and exhaust emission for vehicles running on Bio-CNG. With this, vehicle manufacturers can manufacture, sell and get vehicles fuelled by Bio-CNG in the country. Retro fitment of existing polluting vehicle into electric hybrid and electric vehicle have been permitted. Enabling regulations have been finalized and demonstration of technology completed successfully.

4). Electric vehicles: India’s first multi modal Electric Vehicle passenger transport project was launched in Nagpur, with integrated solution of buses, taxis and E-Rickshaws.The E-Rickshaw, which has proved to be an effective substitute for manual rickshaws, has emerged as a cost effective, environment friendly solution for improving last mile connectivity. Electric, Ethanol and Methanol Vehicles have been exempted from permits. Keeping in view the need for promoting electric mobility and alternate fuels, the Ministry has exempted Battery Operated Vehicles, as well as vehicles driven on Methanol fuel or Ethanol fuel, from the requirement of permit for carrying passengers or goods. M 15 (15%) Methanol blending with Gasoline,in order to reduce vehicle exhaust emissions and also to reduce the import burden on account of crude petroleum from which gasoline, has been permitted. The Hon’ble Prime Minister had announced an ambitious target of reducing 10% import dependence on oil and gas by 2022 from 2014-15 levels. Methanol can be used as an alternative transportation fuel, thereby reducing Import dependence to some extent.

5). Linking of construction of highways with digging of water bodies in drought affected areas: This has been very unique and path braking initiative. The requirement of earth work for the development of National Highway network for embankments is met by the contractors/ concessionaires through buying the earth from landowners or procuring the same through mining of minor minerals. Keeping in view that many parts of the country face drought conditions and restoration of ponds, check dams and water tanks offers an age-old system of water conservation/ ground water recharging, instructions have been issued by the Ministry to the agencies responsible for construction of National Highways to advise their contractors/ construction agencies through their field officers to approach the concerned District Collectors/ Sub-collectors/ Water Conservation Departments to obtain a list of any such villages/ rural areas where de-siltation/ revival of existing ponds/ water bodies or digging of areas for creation of new water bodies are required and thereby procure the requisite soil for road embankments.

 

Some of the prominent works completed or in progress:

1). Chardham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojana: This EPC project envisages development of easy access to the four prominent Dhams, namely, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, situated in the state of Uttarakhand.. The project entails development of 889 km of roads with configuration of two-lane with paved shoulders at an estimated cost of about Rs. 12,000 crore.

2). Highways Projects in the North-East: Projects worth Rs. 1,90,000 crores have been sanctioned for the construction of roads for over 12,000 km in the North East region. The projects being executed by NHIDCL are to the tune of Rs. 1, 66,026 crores, covering 10,892 km of roads in all the eight NE states. Projects costing Rs. 17,257 crores have been allotted to the respective state PWDs. Further, projects costing Rs. 7,000 crores are entrusted to the NHAI.

3). Logistics Parks:A network of 35 Multimodal Logistics Parks had been identified for development in the Phase-1 of BharatmalaPariyojana. The availability of the land parcels for development of Multimodal Logistics Parks has been confirmed at 7 locations and DPRs have been initiated in all the nodes.

4). Eastern Peripheral Express-way–Western Peripheral Expre-ssway: The two projects of Peripheral Expressways around Delhi, comprising 135 km Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE), and 135 km Western Peripheral Expressway (WPE) connecting NH-1 and NH-2 from Western and Eastern side of Delhi were completed.

5). Chenani- Nashri Tunnel, J&K: This all-weather tunnel between Udhampur and Ramban in Jammu & Kashmir cuts the travel time between Jammu and Srinagar by two hours. The tunnel has been constructed at a cost of about Rs 3720 crores and is a part of the 286-km-long project for four-laning of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.

6). Dhola-Sadiya Bridge: India’s longest bridge, the 9.15 km long Dhola-Sadiya Bridge over River Brahmaputra in Assam, was inaugurated in May 2017, connectingUpper Assam and Eastern part of Arunachal Pradesh, reducing the travel time between the two places from six hours to just one hour.

7). Extra-dosed Bridge across River Narmada at Bharuch: A new four lane, extra-dosed Bridge across river Narmada at Bharuch was inaugurated by in March 2017, has brought major relief for people travelling on the Vadodara- Surat section of NH-8.

8). Bridge over River Chambal at Kota: A 6-lane Cable Stayed Bridge across river Chambal at Kota was inaugurated in August 2017. Built at a cost of Rs. 278 Crores, this bridge marks the completion of the East-West corridor.

9). New Brahmaputra Bridge: The pre-stressed concrete bridge downstream of the existing Saraighat Bridge was inaugurated in 2017 and will facilitate movement of people from all districts North of Brahamaputra to Guwahati.

10). Varanasi Airport Road and Ring Road: The 16.55 km, Rs 759.36 crore Varanasi Ring Road Phase-I and 17.25 km, Rs 812.59 crore Babatpur-Varanasi road on NH-56 have been inaugurated. It has reduced the travel time from Varanasi to the airport, and is proving a big relief to the people of Varanasi and to tourists providing a more convenient access to  Sarnath, an important site for Buddhist pilgrimage.

11). Delhi-Meerut Expressway: 8.36 kms of 14 lane highway has been inaugurated and construction of the remaining length is progressing fast.

12). Delhi-Varodara Expressway: Work on the 840 km Expressway has been awarded and is in progre

 


By Vaibhav Dange

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