Modest Pace: Road development at the state level picking up slowly

Road development at the state level picking up slowly

Road development across states has taken a new turn, with focus now being laid on developing elevated corridors and ring roads, in a bid to decongest metropolitan cities. Further, Maharashtra has adopted a region-wise approach towards road development, while Madhya Pradesh continues to focus on district roads through its flagship programme the Madhya Pradesh District Roads II Sector Project (MPDRIISP). With regard to funding, state government funds continue to dominate all other sources, with multilateral funds also playing a key role. The past year witnessed the emergence of a new multilateral organisation – the New Development Bank (NDB).

Significant headway has been made with respect to land acquisition issues. While land pooling has emerged as a unique model to acquire land for projects, another model involving a mutually agreeable approach (adopted for the Agra-Lucknow Expressway) has been successful and is now being replicated across various projects in the country. Nonetheless, the pace of road network creation is still slow.

Maharashtra launches pipeline of elevated road projects

Over the past year, the Maharashtra government has once again begun to focus on decongesting cities through the launch of a pipeline of elevated road projects including the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC)-Bandra-Worli Sea Link elevated corridor project, the BKC-LBS Marg elevated road project, the BKC-Western Express Highway elevated road project, the BKC-Eastern Express Highway elevated connector project, the Thane-Ghodbunder elevated road project, and the Bhiwandi-Kalyan-Shil Phata six-laning-cum-elevated road project. The state adopted a balanced region-wise approach towards road development. While the Maharashtra cabinet announced a Rs 492 billion road development plan for the Marathwada region, a Rs 70 billion development plan entailing the augmentation of at least 3,000 km of roads was proposed for the Vidarbha region.

Meanwhile, significant progress has been made on some of the state’s big-ticket projects. Construction contractors for the Rs 120 billion Coastal Road Project are expected to be finalised soon, with construction likely to begin by end-March 2018. Regarding the Rs 460 billion Mumbai-Nagpur Expressway project, the state government has signed an MoU with the South Korean government for planning and executing the project. Currently, eight bidders have qualified for construction and a loan of Rs 8 billion has been sanctioned by the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) for the project. Besides, the Rs 75 billion Versova-Bandra Sea Link project is also expected to commence soon, while the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link project has received the final go-ahead to begin construction, and will receive funding of Rs 86 billion from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Some key projects that were inaugurated during the year were the Savitri river bridge and the Thane-Nashik flyover.

For the current financial year (2017-18), the Maharashtra government has allocated Rs 70 billion for improving roads in the state, Rs 35 billion for projects under the hybrid annuity model (HAM) and Rs 16.3 billion for rural roads under the Chief Minister Gram Sadak Yojana. The state has further decided to award a minimum of 10,000 km of road contracts via HAM in 2017. In a bid to enhance accountability and ensure road quality, the state government has also decided to award annual maintenance contracts for 50,000 km of state roads.

Telangana to focus on ring roads

Over the past 12 months, the Telangana government has laid significant emphasis on the development of ring roads. It announced plans to build two ring roads at an aggregate cost of Rs 240 billion. One ring road forms a part of the Telangana Golden Circuit, spanning 886 km, while the other is the Telangana Golden Garland that spans 1,534 km along the periphery of the state. Another proposed road is the 73 km Warangal Outer Ring Road. These ring roads are in addition to the 338 km Hyderabad Regional Ring Road and Nehru Outer Ring Road (Phase IIB) projects for which construction has already commenced.

To enhance and expedite road development in the state, the government incorporated a separate entity – Hyderabad Road Development Corporation Limited.

Besides, under the Strategic Road Development Project, work has currently been initiated only for Package II (involving the construction of flyovers and grade separators at L.B. Nagar and the surrounding areas) and Package IV (for the same at four junctions – Biodiversity junction, Mind Space junction, Ayyappa Society junction and Rajiv Gandhi Statue junction). The remaining packages (I, III and V) though have been facing delays.

Meanwhile, the state government also launched several flyover/elevated road projects such as the Amberpet-Ramanthapur flyover, seven flyovers over the Musi river, and the 6.4 km Uppal-Ghatkesar elevated corridor on the Hyderabad-Warangal highway.

Other key upcoming projects in the state include the 396 km Koutala-Bhadrachalam highway, the 10 km corridor from Aramghar to Shamshabad airport on the Hyderabad-Bengaluru highway, the 98 km Narketpalli-Nalgonda-Tipparthi-Miryalguda-Kondrapolu-Pondugula corridor, and the 109 km Jedcharla-Damagnapur-Karnataka border corridor.

Uttar Pradesh renews focus on road development During the past few months, the Uttar Pradesh government has renewed its focus on road development through a number of initiatives. It incorporated a dedicated entity – the Uttar Pradesh Road Development Corporation – for road development in the state. It also redefined its policy for highway and road construction under which construction companies will have to guarantee maintenance of these roads for a period of five years, post-construction.

The year also witnessed the inauguration of the 302 km Agra-Lucknow Expressway that was completed in a record 23 months by the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority. Regarding ongoing projects, the central government signed an agreement with JICA for an official development assistance loan worth Rs 4 billion for the Rs 75.58 billion Kundli-Ghaziabad-Palwal Expressway project (Eastern Peripheral Expressway). The Uttar Pradesh government also sought a loan of Rs 25 billion from HUDCO for the Lucknow-Ballia Expressway project. The state has set aside 60 per cent of its supplementary budget (Rs 10 billion) for the implementation of the project.

Besides expressways, significant emphasis is also being laid on the development of ring roads and bypasses. Key among these are the 76 km inner ring road in Allahabad; ring roads/ bypass roads in Bareilly, Govardhan, Kanpur, Meerut, Moradabad and Gorakhpur; the Agra-Delhi highway; the Agra-Hathras bypass; and the Agra-Etawah bypass six-laning highway projects.

The state is also undertaking the development of the Mehrauli-Badarpur Road-Noida Expressway stretch, the 550 km Chitrakoot-Gorakhpur Green Expressway, the Naini-Jhunsi bridge, the 320 km six-lane road from Jhansi to the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, a six-lane bridge over the Ganga river in Allahabad, and the four-lane Jhansi-Allahabad Expressway.

Karnataka steps up focus on urban decongestion

The Karnataka government has stepped up its focus on decongesting Bengaluru. It is currently working on widening four roads on the outskirts of the city – the Hoskote-Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) corridor, the Nela-mangala-KIA corridor, the Anekal-KIA corridor and the Harohalli-KIA corridor, for improving connectivity to the international airport. Once completed, these arterial and sub-arterial roads, ranging from 22 km to 47 km in length, are expected to reduce traffic congestion. This project will entail a cost of Rs 14.55 billion for construction works and Rs 5 billion for land acquisition. Besides, several elevated/flyover projects are also on the anvil. These include the Ejipura-Kendriya Sadan elevated road, the 109 km Central Silk Board-Hebbal elevated road corridor, and the Chalukya Circle-Hebbal flyover.

The 65 km peripheral ring road, estimated to cost Rs 119.5 billion, has, however, seen no progress in recent years. After being stalled for a few years and with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) showing no interest in taking it up, the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) formed a special purpose vehicle with the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation to implement the project. While the central and state governments will part-fund the project, the corporation will help the BDA in getting the remaining funds.

Other key projects in the pipeline include the Bengaluru peripheral ring road; the Krishna river major bridge; the Hubli-Haveri road project; the Chitradurga-Davanagere road project; the Bengaluru-Nidagatta road project; the Bengaluru-Magadi road project; concrete roads at Shiradi Ghat on the Mangaluru-Bengaluru highway; four-laning of the Tumakuru-Honnavar highway; four-laning of the Belagavi-Panaji and Mangaluru-Moodbidri road stretches; construction of the Haveri-Yekambi-Belekere port road; construction of an expressway from the Whitefield Industrial Cluster to Chennai and Enyam port in Tamil Nadu; the 98 km Narketpalli-Nalgonda-Tipparthi-Miryalguda-Kondrapolu-Pondugula corridor; and the 109 km Jedcharla-Damagnapur-Karnataka border corridor.

Delhi’s green signal to decongestion plans

The state has witnessed the launch of several road projects comprising elevated roads, flyovers and tunnels over the past year, aimed at decongesting city roads. Some of these are the Mehrauli-Badarpur-Noida Expressway elevated road project; the Wazirabad-Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) elevated road project; the Mathura Road-Ring Road tunnel project; the Nizamuddin Bridge-Lodhi Colony tunnel project; extension of the Ashram flyover till the Delhi-Noida-Delhi flyover; an underground tunnel below the India Trade Promotion Organisation; underground U-turns on Mathura Road; construction of grade separators on the Outer Ring Road, including a link between the existing Modi Mill flyover with the Kalkaji flyover; a two-way flyover over the Malviya Nagar junction; and a six-lane elevated bypass connecting Shiv Murti in Mahipalpur to Nelson Mandela Road in Vasant Kunj.

NHAI has also finalised a plan for implementing eight radial road projects in Delhi totalling 301 km. These are the Azadpur-Sonipat (25 km), Kashmere Gate-Baghpat (30 km), Nizamuddin Bridge-Dasna (30 km), Noida-Buddh International Circuit (40 km), Lajpat Nagar-Kherli Kankar (64 km), Shivaji Place-Badli (35 km), Wazirpur-Pipli (30 km) and Bhikaji Cama Place-NBRC Gate (47 km) road sections.

Meanwhile, other projects in the pipeline for development include the third ring road project, the Connaught Place-IGIA road project, the Delhi-Amritsar Expressway project, Phase IV of the Barapullah elevated road project, the Delhi-Saharanpur-Yamunotri four-laning road project (State Highway-57), the Dhaula Kuan-Jaipur road project, the Mukarba Chowk-Panipat road project, the Dwarka Expressway and the North-West corridor.

Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan continue to drive road development through multilateral funds Over the past year, both Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have managed to secure adequate funds for their flagship programmes through various multilateral agencies. For the MPDRIISP, the central government and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) signed a loan agreement of Rs 22.9 billion; in addition the project has been granted a loan amount of Rs 23.95 billion by the NDB and Rs 9.81 billion by the Madhya Pradesh government. Headway has also been made with regard to contract awards. During the past year at least five packages were awarded under the MPDRIISP. Some of the contract awards were made to the joint venture of IL&FS Engineering and Construction Company Limited and IL&FS Transportation Networks Limited for packages IX and X; Gannon Dunkerley & Company Limited for package VI; GHV Private Limited for package XIV; and Prakash Asphaltings and Toll Highways (India) Limited for package XVII.

ADB approved a multi-tranche financing facility worth Rs 32.42 billion for the Rajasthan State Highway Investment Program (RSHIP). Under the first tranche, 1,000 km of state highways will be upgraded at an estimated cost of Rs 42.47 billion, of which Rs 14.26 billion will be given by ADB. The remaining amount of Rs 18.15 billion from ADB will form a part of the project’s second tranche that will cost around Rs 49.27 billion. Besides, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development has sanctioned a loan of Rs 13.49 billion to the Rajasthan government for the creation of rural infrastructure, which includes Rs 5.99 billion for the rehabilitation of 1,614 roads across 33 districts.

Conclusion

Over the past year, road development across states has mainly been centred on decongesting city roads, and for this significant thrust has been given by both central and state governments through the launch of several elevated road, flyover and tunnel projects. Significant progress has also been made under externally funded programmes such as the MPDRIISP and RSHIP. However, the sector is still beset by a number of issues, such as that of land acquisition. There is an urgent need for a more effective dispute resolution mechanism, along with proper project development and preparation, and balanced risk allocation.