Road reform: The country much bandied roads development programme is expected to move on a faster track with private sector push.
Byline: Infrastructure Today
Faced with increasing criticism of road projects moving at a slow pace the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), is now looking to expedite the pace of implementation. vbCrLFIt has prepared a work plan to invite 71 bids worth Rs 61,621 crore in the next six months. vbCrLFAs part of its fast track moves, NHAI is offering the first set of operations, maintenance and tolling (OMT) contracts to developers in the private sector by banking on their work efficiencies. For five to nine years developers will be allowed to operate, maintain and collect toll on highway stretches currently being managed by the highway authority itself under the new arrangement in exchange for maintaining them and providing essential road services, including ambulances. Apart from maintenance and surfacing, developers will also have to construct toll plazas. Currently most government-funded highways are handed to tolling agents and maintenance sub-contractors on a cash basis. The new formula is viewed as a positive development because of the participation of the biggest players who are expected to create assets which will be managed by them properly. vbCrLFThe NHAI has received about 20 bids for each of the six road stretches for which it had invited bids this year. These relate to stretches of highways, spanning vbCrLF1,687 km in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. Apart from projects for which the bid process was started last year but not awarded, the NHAI is also looking to bid out some 38 other projects, collectively worth Rs 42,331 crore during 2009-10. The highway authority is expected to give away close to 6,000 km of roads through cash contracts. Much inspiration can also be derived from the fact that the allocation during the current year to National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been stepped up. While the National Highways Development Programme (NHDP) has a 23 per cent increase in allocation over FY09 (BE) allocation for the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) has seen a 59 per cent rise over BE FY09 to Rs 120 billion.vbCrLFIn order to infuse more life into its plan of constructing expressways across the country, the government is also looking to set up an autonomous body on the lines of NHAI to develop and manage expressways. The government is conducting reviews on regular basis of on-going and proposed NHDP projects which will commence within eight months from the date of award. The progress of projects are being closely monitored at various levels and steps have been taken to expedite land acquisition, shifting of utilities, obtaining clearances from Railways for road over bridges (ROBs) and taken action against non-performing contractors. The ministry of road transport and highways is also contemplating further changes to the model concession agreement (MCA) for roads in order to make it more private investor and developer friendly. SRvbCrLF
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