Vijay Chhibber, Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways shares his views on the status of pending projects, the financing of projects and the much talked about Road Safety and Transportation Bill
1. The BJP-led NDA government has awarded road projects for 3,419 km since it came to power in May and aims to award a total of 8,500 km in the current financial year. Disputes involving 2,384 km of projects have been resolved. What is the state of the projects which are coming up for bidding? When is this bidding likely to happen?
Bidding for the balance projects are being taken up in a phased manner considering stage of project preparatory activities particularly on the land acquisition front. Further, projects are being split into manageable packages, prioritized and then implemented. We are likely to exceed 5000 km of road length awarded by December 31, 2014, and the target of awarding 8500 km this year appears to be achievable.
Disputes for 57 project packages worth Rs 11,380 crores have been resolved so far for Rs 1031crores. The progress is satisfactory.
2. What is the status of the interest expressed by Japan, China and Malaysia in the Indian Roads sector projects?
Entities, not necessarily the Government themselves, have expressed interest in the sector in various capacities –providing finances, construction of highways, supply of equipment and technologies etc. The Government is examining all such proposals. While such entities are welcome to participate in the Indian highways sector, existing institutional routes as per the laws of the land would require to be followed by them. Appointing such entities on nomination basis at the exclusion of Indian contractors cannot be allowed. Competitive bidding using E-tendering is the only route open to all participants including foreign entities.
3. The Road Transport and Safety Bill (2014) is likely to be presented in the Winter Session of Parliament – is likely to bring down road accidents by 50 per cent in the next two years by bringing road safety into the mainstream. What are the roadblocks that exist in achieving this target?
The above Bill is currently under finalization at MoRTH. Major thrust areas as per the newly proposed Bill are as follows:
i. Creation of a National Road Safety Authority of India – a legally empowered agency with financial independence for vehicle regulation and road safety. It would focus on saving more than 2.00 lakh lives in its first five years.
ii. Motor Vehicle regulations - including promoting innovation and technology initiatives, improved vehicle design for safer travel etc.
iii. Unified driver license system – including simplified procedures, use of unified biometric system to avoid duplication, technology adoption for driver testing facilities etc.
iv. Unified vehicle registration system – including manufacturer, owner, transport authority, insurer, enforcement authority in an integrated manner, easy online transfer of vehicles across states, increased private sector participation to create more jobs.
v. Creation of National Road Transport & Multimodal coordination Authority– single national authority for improving quality of road transportation with focus on developing integrated transport systems and multi-modal hubs, feeder systems and last mile connectivity for people friendly mobility.
vi. Encouraging public passenger transport - through two tier permit system for national and inter-state permits, developing and regulating public transport schemes, promoting eco –friendly public transportation, etc.
vii. Public goods transport and National Freight Policy- through simplified permits, development of freight networks and addressing bottlenecks of the public goods transport industry. Increase in logistics efficiency would reduce inflation and enable Indian manufacturing to become globally competitive.
viii. Infrastructure and multi-modal facilitation - infrastructure for passengers and goods movement, addressing infrastructure needs of vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists, integration across various modes of transport.
ix. Road safety and traffic management- through provision for enforcement of modern safety technologies including electronic enforcement in urban clusters, creating a motor vehicle crash fund for immediate relief to crash victims, emphasis on safety of school children, etc.
x. Insurance of Motor Vehicles against third party risks – including concepts like detailed crash investigation reports, structured dispensation for payment of compensation etc.
xi. Creation of National Highway Traffic Regulation & Protection Service by the State Governments - in order to ensure adequate State level interventions in efficient movement of freight and passenger, address enforcement issues and assist crash victims.
xii. Penalties linked with offences- for better enforcement of traffic rules and to act as a deterrent for offenders.
Roadblocks will be substantially resolved once the Act is passed.
4. Also, the government plans to increase the speed to building 30 km of roads every day as compared to less than three km currently. We would like to seek your valuable views on the initiatives being taken by the Ministry to attain this target.
Recent policy initiatives of MoRTH to expedite implementation of highway projects include the following: