Mr. Nitin Gadkari recently announced the launch of the new renewed and upgraded National Highway 44 that aims to further boost industrial development in Meghalaya. However, for the next few days, the minister for road transport and highways will try to review various issues that are generally faced in the completion of National Highway projects in north-eastIndia.
Emphasizing on the significance of the improved NH-44, Mr. Gadkari said, “This national highway road passes through coal and cement belts in the state. It is important for the development of industries in Meghalaya, predominantly for cement manufacturers.” Talking more about its importance, he further added that the road will also help in reducing the travel time from present four to two hours between Jowai in West Jaintia Hills district and Sonapur in East Jaintia Hills district neighboring Silchar.
The minister said that in coming days, the new improved Jowai-Ratacherra highway will increase fast movement of goods, especially bamboos from Barrak Valley in Assam to different north-eastern states. In fact, many locals believe that this highway will help in the improvement of the bamboo industry in the region. As per officials, the creationof the 102-km long highwaystarted in November 2015 and had been completed in March 2018, which is a record time as it is two months ahead of schedule. Thekey highlight of this highway project is its three major and 44 minor bridges, and a 143-meter long tunnel.
In the meantime, Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma conveyedgratitude to the central government for the upgradataion of NH-44. He added, “It is a significant and undoubtedly historical day for Meghalaya in addition to the entire northeastern region, as we have successfully completed this project much before the anticipated date.”
The Centre has decided to upgrade the 15km approach road to the proposed four-lane bridge parallel to Vikramshila Setu over the Ganga at Bhagalpur to national highway status. The Centre has given the sanction for erecting of much needed bridge costing Rs 1,700 crore. In fact, this is the second recent approvals from the Centre after the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) had announced to begin the construction of a six-lane bridge parallel to Rajendra Setu in Mokama over the Ganga at Rs 1,161 crore.
“The biggest challenge to get positive approval for the bridge construction was that the road didn’t fall under national highway category,” said, Mr. Nand Kishore Yadav, road construction department minister. He further added, “The Centre has always played the key role in connecting national highway with national highway and to construct the approach road of this project was never easy as it is not a national highway on the Naugachia side. It was really a big challenge for us to get Centre’s approval, but now the Centre has cleared all the ambiguity and declared a 15km approach road of this project a national highway. With this we have achieved the dream of constructing a bridge parallel to Vikramshila Setu.”
As things stands now, the existing Setu is not in good shape and at the same time face regular traffic congestion, even on the approach road. In fact, in 2016, chief minister Nitish Kumar was himself got caught in a traffic jam. Before, 2015 Assembly elections in Bihar, Mr. Narendra Modi had announced
a special package of Rs 1.65 lakh crore for Bihar of which Rs 55,000 crore was planned to be spent on the upgrading and development of bridges and roads.
“The total length of the bridge is 15 km and of main bridge 4.367 km,” Nand Kishore said. “The approach road toward Bhagalpur side (NH 80) is .978km and toward Naugachia side (NH 31) 8.964km. However, we would require to acquire 52 acres of private land. This project will be implemented by Bihar Rajya Pul Nirman Nigam Ltd and in addition to that its detail project report (DPR) has also been prepared.” He said that after the completion of the four-lane bridge, traffic in Bhagalpur city will get smoother and vehicles will be able to enter from Jharkhand.
In next few months, India’s first smart and green Eastern Peripheral Expressway (EPE) is about to witness different new measures that will be implemented to control the ratio of accidents and road violations. As per the sources there will be installation of automatic ticket dispensing machines that will meant to display the vehicle number and class right at the entry point, high operational cameras within the range of one km to notice traffic violations, in addition to video detection system to spot accidents or any unwanted jams, and many others.
According to a TOI report, the work, would cost Rs 248 crore and the first such intelligent transport system (ITS) project will get complete technical assistance from JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency). Adding to that to make the EPE entirely functional, the government has also roped in the Spanish embassy for the on time completion of the project.
This is the first time, any highway will be upgraded with 30 video incident detection systems, 143 traffic monitor cameras, 3 meteorological observation systems, 18 automatic traffic counter classifiers, 3 environmental observation systems, 16 travel time measurement systems, 38 variable message systems, 18 vehicle speed detection systems and 30 weight monitoring systems. As per the project details, apart from providing information in context to traffic conditions, one would also be able to get data on the real-time ambient air quality that will be displayed by the variable message signage. Having said that, on the 135 km long stretch, boom barriers will also move faster as compared to the ones on other highway sections across different states.
India and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a $346 million loan agreement to finance upgrading of over 400 kilometres of state highways that comes under the Karnataka State Highways improvement lll Project.
This loan agreement has been signed by Mr. Sameer Kumar Khare, Joint Secretary (Fund Bank and ADB) in the Department of Economic Affairs, Union Ministry of Finance, and Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of ADB’s India Resident Mission. Mr. Khare after signing the loan agreement, said “The outcome of this agreement that one could expect is the improvement in the connectivity and easy access to different economic centres across 12 districts in Karnataka. Adding to that state highways are going to turn out to be the vital link to economic centres, local population and also expected to encourage economic activities.”
On this occasion, Mr. Yokoyama, said “The new loan will continue ADB support to the Government of Karnataka’s state-wide road improvement program, and could also assist in the proper stabilization of the institutional capacity, and develop better road safety.”
This KSHIP-lll project aim to enhance the connectivity of 419 kilometres of state highways to two- and four-lane with paved shoulders. During this project, there will be reconstruct, widening, and improvement in the strength of tunnels and bridges.
The most remarkable aspect of this (KSHIP-lll) Project is the usage of hybrid annuity contracts that would ultimately result in the increase of the contribution from private sector. Adding to that there will also be advancement in the quality of road assets with performance-based maintenance period that will last for 7 years after the completion of the construction operation.
The project will also conduct a road safety audit with an aim to recognize and lessen critical accident key locations or accident prone areas through the state highway network. Apart from all these, the (KSHIP-lll) Project will further strengthen the institutional capacity of the Karnataka Public Works, Ports, and lnland Water Transport Department.