Par panel asks Road Ministry to expedite NHDP work

A Parliamentary panel has asked the Road Transport and Highways Ministry to expedite efforts to attract private investment besides making these projects attractive.

New Delhi: Concerned over slow progress of works under National Highways Development Project, a Parliamentary panel has asked the Road Transport and Highways Ministry to expedite efforts to attract private investment besides making these projects attractive.

"...The Committee have reiterated that the Ministry must take suitable measures for making various (NHDP) projects attractive to private parties, since the PPP is poised to become the pre-dominant mode of delivering infrastructure services in the near future," Committee on Estimates said in its report on NHDP tabled in Lok Sabha today.

The UPA government`s flagship programme NHDP aims at upgrading, rehabilitating and widening major highways in India to international standards and projects worth Rs three lakh crore are likely to be bid out under it. NHDP is being executed in seven phases.

Pointing out that the Ministry did not pay any heed to its repeated recommendations on the need to explore various possibilities to attract bidders, the Committee, headed by Francisco Sardinha, said there was a need for "revising the project cost, providing funds on concessional interest rate and...Flexibility in Concessional Agreement."

It also stressed the need for augmentation of the Implementation of North South-East West (NS-EW) Corridor Projects by preparing a detailed plan for its completion.

"The Committee, while noting the Ministry has neither outlined any plan of action to accelerate the process of implementation of NS-EW Corridor projects nor bothered to give details on how these projects would be completed significantly by March, 2012, have re-emphasised the need on the part of the Ministry to undertake suitable steps," it said.

The North-South and East-West Corridor (NS-EW; 7,300 km) aims to connect Srinagar in the north to Kanyakumari in the south, including Salem to Kanyakumari (Via Coimbatore and Kochi) and Silchar in the east to Porbandar in the west.

On toll collection front, it asked the Ministry to ensure that electronic toll collection system was implemented instead of manual cash payments at toll plazas.

Observing that currently there is no mechanism to ensure compliance of NHAI fee rules to prevent unscrupulous toll collectors, the panel recommended that the Nilekani Committee`s recommendations concerning shifting to Intelligent Transport System be adopted by the Ministry to make matters smoother and fool-proof.

With an objective of implementing unified electronic toll collection (ETC) on National Highways in the country, the Ministry has constituted a committee in April 2010 under Nandan Nilekani, Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and mandated it to come out with an ETC technology, the report of which has already been submitted.

It also asked the Ministry about the steps undertaken to
set up Expressway Authority of India (EAI), which was prioritised way back in the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12).

The government had announced setting up an EAI, a nodal body to build 18,637 km of expressways in three phases by 2022.

In December 2008, the Transport Ministry had hired a consultant for formulating the master plan for the national expressway network in a phased manner. The plan was accepted by the government.

The plan, however, was later shelved with the government saying it was facing problems in land acquisition and the issue was being re-examined.

The Committee also expressed concern over the "ways the Ministry has dealt with the issues of appointment of Chief Secretaries as nodal officers by the state governments for land acquisition, reservation about payment of compensation to project affected persons".


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