Nitin Gadkari inaugurates an upgraded NH-44 in Meghalaya

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.”


Centre approves 4-lane bridge at Bhagalpur

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.


Eastern Peripheral Expressway plans to control accidents & violation issues

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, ADB sign USD 346 million loan agreement to upgrade the standards of state highways in Karnataka

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.


Macquarie – Australian based firm paid govt Rs 9,681 cr and set to function in nine highway stretches

Australia-based Macquarie has successfully made a payment of Rs 9,681.50 crore to the government and all set to function nine highway stretches in its Toll Operate and Transfer (TOT) policy.

Recently, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had started India’s first TOT model with an aim to monetize NHs by granting toll collection operations to various private parties for 30 years. Just few months back, first package of nine highway stretches measuring approx. 680 kilometre in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh was auctioned. Macquarie was amongst the four auction-goers to earn the first bundle of the TOT contract of NHAI.

The second bundle of over 586 kms, is also about to put for auction, and will stretch across four different states starting from Gujrat, Rajasthan, Bihar and West Bengal. The offer has 12 toll plazas across four highways.

On 29th August 2018, Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (India) Pvt Ltd’s Senior MD Suresh Goyal presented the cheque to Nitin Gadkari, Union highways minister, at a roadshow organized by the NHAI. On this occasion, Gadkari said that very soon the second bundle of TOT will be offered and in next few months expect to see several more bundles. Moreover, he also urged private investors to bid for these bundles, as these TOT is a risk-free model. He further added, “India is looking forward to have more foreign investment for its infrastructure sector and having said that our department has introduced this TOT model. As we are all set to hand over the first bundle under TOT, we are confident that this new step will encourage more such awards in coming days. Apart from this, the money we are going to receive will further be invested to lift infrastructure in the country.”

Nitin Gadkari also invited investors to come forward with more new investment models for the infrastructure sector. NHAI has already identified 75 NH another stretches through the country and also set to award fresh contracts to a third party under the TOT model.


Industry Experts Says, Auction of 8 highways could well raise Rs 5,400 crore

The government is all set to start the auction of the second tranche of eight finished national highway projects, and expect to generate about Rs 5400 crore.

Recently NHAI has announced to plan and conduct roadshows in Canada and the US with an aim to pull the attention of international bidders. In fact, NHAI is expecting that these roadshows might also receive a god response in addition to the participation of pension and insurance funds that might be also interested to invest in these contracts. Important aspect to note is that the TOT (Toll-Operator Transfer) contractor will have the complete permission to collect and manage toll on these stretches for the duration of 30 years.

Many industry experts are considering this deal as one of the major and biggest foreign investments in India’s public infrastructure sector. Adding to that some even consider the auction of completed projects under the TOT model as the most unique and innovative mode as it would further help in nurturing funds. These funds would help in undertaking of the construction of development of national highway projects and reducing dependency on government expenditure.


NHAI plans to raise over Rs 5,300 cr as it calls bids for highway construction

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has announced to release its second bundle under the highways’ toll-operate-transfer (TOT) scheme to effectively monetize 586.55 kilometers of national highways. In fact, the authority has decided to select eight stretches of national highways across different states – Gujarat, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Bihar to put on auction. NHAI is ready to acknowledge the bids till November 5 for various selected highways.

TOT is one of those few mechanisms that has been adopted by NHAI where the authority auctions operational assets. The important point to note is that the top bidder would require to pay the money (bid amount) upfront with NHAI and the authority can make use of this capital to further invest in the creation of newer highways. However, against the money, the bidder has got the right to work and preserve the highways via toll collection.

Recently, this year in the month of March, NHAI has auctioned the first package of 648 kilometers. The Authority mopped up Rs 9,681.5 crore from joint ventures of Macquarie and Ashoka Buildcon, who took the right to run and keep up nine stretches. Apart from all these, NHAI had also fixed the initial projected concession worth at Rs 6,260 crore. In the second round of bidding, the initial estimated concession cost was decided at Rs 5,362 crore.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved and gave permission to NHAI in 2016 to further raise the funds via asset monetization program. The authority has also recognized 75 selective highway projects that could be put up from auction.


Rising need of Advance Traffic Management System

Rising traffic congestion is an inevitable condition in large. Studies have shown that there are occasions when traffic congestion occurs and is an inherent result of the method nowadays modern societies operate. The key point to note is that nobody likes traffic congestion, and in most of the instances it keeps getting worse. The other striking facet that we require to take in to consideration is the relation of frequent traffic congestion and road accidents. In fact, regular road accidents and traffic congestion are the two most external factors and always discussion topics among transport policy makers.

Over many years, relationship between road accidents and traffic congestion has not been apparent and less studied. However, in the past few years, many independent bodies, and highway experts have started to study the influence of traffic congestion on the occurrence of road accidents by following a spatial analysis approach, in addition to controlling various other relevant factors.

Different studies submitted by various industry experts have shown that in recent times commuters using private vehicles, want to move at the same times of day. Now the real matter of concern is that every highway road system does not always have the ability to handle any emergency or even peak-hour loads without compelling many commuters just to wait in line for getting adequate assistance or limited road space. In fact, today there are many other countries facing traffic congestion problems. To address such there is a need of an effective and advance traffic management system.

In coming years, the Highways sector of India is anticipated to see huge increase on account of increasing necessities propelled by economic development. Adding to that the dependency on road transport network is also expected to grow high. The increasing traffic in India is too posing the urgent need to develop highways infrastructure and a proper management system.

Advance Traffic Management System (ATMS) is a comprehensive real time system that could very well help in the complete highway transportation and adds in the smooth, and competent traffic operation. It even promotes in the quick saving and relief to road users in distress. Many experts refer it to one such system that has been designed to allow easy branching for the development along highway. Having said that, it provides a solution for deployment, operation, maintenance, of monitoring systems, as the characteristics of highway keep changing dramatically. What makes the highway traffic management system more unique and special is that it takes the form of mobile traffic monitoring by making the best usage of the portable sensors in order to gather traffic data, or information in real-time.

In general the key components of ATMS are Variable Message Signboards, CCTV cameras, Emergency Response System, Automatic Traffic Counter and Classifier. In addition to this, the other components of ATMS also includes VMS & WIMS, Travel Time Estimation System (TTES), and Vehicle actuated radar speed system.

The best highlight about ATMS is that it offers cater to road surveillance, and in present scenario it has become very much vital. Undoubtedly, in the past few years, the ratio of vehicles running on roads and especially on highways has increased, and with this unfortunately there has also been a gradual increase in the vehicle accident, and traffic congestion. The significant upsurge in traffic on any National Highway stretch can well be managed by an effective implementation of traffic management system.


Gadkari completely denied stopping of highway toll collection

Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari has completely ruled out any exclusion from toll collection at the national highways. In fact, all the individuals making use of national highways must pay if they want good services.

Adding to that, the minister even remarked that toll collection can never be omitted, as funds are adequately required and must be raised for the proper construction of roads under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model. “The toll (collection) will never go. The toll will be there. All those who are looking for good services, have to pay for it,” Gadkari said at the recent function of the PTI employees unions here last night.

Although, he expressed a serious concern over the increasing occurrences of road accidents. He even said that the ministry is constantly working towards inducing right and modern technology that could well ensure safety of highway users traveling on the highways. Unfortunately, nearly about 1.46 lakh people had lost their lives in 4.60 lakh road accidents across the country in 2017.


Soon Mumbai-Nagpur highway Users will get Access to Car Charge Stations at every 35 km

Good news for drivers of electric vehicles, as now they have not to worry about any situation of running out of charge on the 820-km Mumbai-Nagpur route. Recently, MSEDCL (Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited) has announced about the plan to set up 50 e-charging stations, at every 35km along the route. The important point to note is that 25 e-charging stations on each corridor will be set-up in tier-II cities such as Aurangabad, Nashik, Jalgaon and Amravati. A source at MSEDCL said that entire set-up of car charge stations will be funded by the state and the Union ministry of heavy industries.

MSEDCL also shared its plan to further set up 500 such stations across other states by 2020, and in different routes like Mumbai-Pune, Mumbai-Nashik, and Mumbai-Ratnagiri corridors. It is estimated that approx. 12 stations will be installed on the high-speed route (both ways included) between Mumbai and Nashik. In fact, just few days back, MSRDC has finalized seven plots along the Expressway for the stations.

Government also aims to create the required infrastructure on state highways and want to encourage an expected shift towards e-vehicles. In fact, one of the MSEDCL official even said, “We are anticipating more e-vehicles in coming years and these new e-vehicles to replace diesel and petrol cars. These e-vehicles should not be restricted to move inside a city but must move between cities.”

Under the Centre’s National Mobility Mission 2020, Energy Efficiency Services Ltd also recommends to buy 10,000-battery powered cars to replace petrol and diesel cars that are used by government departments. In fact, one of the recent notable decisions has been announcement made by the state government had introduced an Electrical Vehicle Policy 2018 that offers incentives for developing charging infrastructure that in turn could encourage consumers opt for environment friendly and zero-emission cars.

In Mumbai region, the MSEDCL is also looking forward to set up four charging stations in the Bhandup-Mulund belt, six in Thane, and four each in Navi Mumbai and Panvel. An MSEDCL official also said “In general, every days the Mumbai-Nagpur highway handles 30,000-40,000 passenger cars and so, our plan to set-up charging stations would also be very viable for us. All that we require to do is just set up DC charging points that are effective, durable and this might also help in reducing the infrastructure costs.”