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Implementation hurdles may take its toll on state highways

The Centre has cited a lack of capacity in the private sector to make huge investments.

Written by Gunjan Pradhan Sinha | New Delhi | Published: August 16, 2011 1:00:37 am

The government’s proposal to invest Rs 4,91,250 crore in developing state roads during the 12th Plan period may face a clutch of challenges on the ground.

The Centre has cited a lack of capacity in the private sector to make huge investments,political sensitivity of tolling,land acquisition and shortage of trained manpower as key hindrances that may hamper the execution of the programme in the next five years beginning 2012.

Keeping in view the above problems and the viability of upgrading state roads by the private sector,the centre has projected that almost 80 per cent of the investment needed will have to be met by public funds. The state highway development programme proposed for the next Plan period relies on public money for Rs 3,89,625 crore and the balance Rs 1,01,625 crore on private investment.

In a presentation made to the High Level Committee on Financing Infrastructure (HLCFI),the government has pointed out that that collecting tolls from day one is often seen by people in the states as giving windfall to concessionaires without any major investment by the same. This has direct impact on the share of private sector on source of funds.

It has further said that land acquisition is becoming progressively more troublesome and may prove a challenge in the next plan period for road development as well. As a part of the Plan,the Centre may ask all state governments to identify a “core network” of roads that have high volume traffic or may potentially carry large traffic. The Centre has said that priority will be given to the core network of roads for future upgradation in the next Plan period. This apart,1,000 km of state expressways have been proposed to supplement the existing arterial national network along with upgradation of major district roads (MDRs). However,there is still some reservation in states over building expressways vis-a-vis access controlled roads.

The Plan draws out a target for 30,000 km of two-lane state highways. There are over one lakh km of single-lane highways in the country. It also proposes constructing four lanes of 5,000 km on the existing two lane state highways that are about 60,800 km. Another 41,500 km of state roads is likely to be taken up for strengthening out of a total of 1,66,100 km.

As per the Plan,all stretches will be built with black topped or cement wearing surfaces.

It is also proposed to take up the two laning of 20,000 km of major district roads (MDRs) which is about 8.5 per cent of the existing single-lane length of 2,38,000 km of MDRs.

Strengthening of 66,500 km of MDRs and four laning of 1,000 km is also part of the proposal.

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