Launched in 2001, the Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project (KSHIP) is an initiative of the Public Works Department of the Karnataka government for the improvement of the state’s road network. In the years leading up to the approval of the project, strong economic growth and a rapid rise in vehicle ownership created pressure to augment the existing capacity and quality of the state’s road network. The secondary road network, that is, state highways and major district roads (MDRs), continued to suffer from consistent under-funding and weak capacity of the state road agencies. As a result, KSHIP was undertaken with the objective of enhancing the capacity and quality of the core state highway network, bring about more efficient and effective network management and improve road safety. It is being implemented in three phases, of which the first phase was completed in 2007.
The first phase of KSHIP involved the upgradation and widening of about 1,000 km of priority state highways, the construction of about 50 km of new bypasses and the rehabilitation of around 1,300 km of state highways and MDRs. The project entailed an investment of $447 million, of which $360 million was provided by the World Bank and $87 million by the Karnataka government.
Road upgradation was implemented in two phases. Under Phase I, roads spanning 394 km were earmarked for upgradation, but a contract for the Bennethora Bridge was dropped and was taken up separately. The second phase of upgradation comprised six road contracts and two bypasses, spanning 598 km. Phases I and II of the project experienced average delays of 14 months and 6 months and cost escalations of 12 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.
Further, road rehabilitation was also carried out in two phases, comprising 34 contract packages. The first phase entailed a total of 10 contracts while the second phase was implemented through 24 contract packages.
The Karnataka Public Works Department was responsible for the implementation of the project. The department established a project implementation unit to manage project preparation and implementation activities on a day-to-day basis. Post the successful completion of KSHIP-I in 2007, the Karnataka government started implementing KSHIP-II in 2011.
KSHIP-II is being implemented in two phases – Phase IA (two stages) and Phase IB – by the Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited (KRDCL). Stage I of Phase IA is being financed by the World Bank while Stage II is being funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Phase IB is yet to be planned, though funds have been allocated by ADB.
Phase IA of the project involves the upgradation of 827 km of state highways in Karnataka. It entails an investment of $1,005 million, of which $350 million is being provided by the World Bank and the remaining $655 million by the Karnataka government. This stage is expected to be completed by December 2018.
For Phase IB, ADB will provide $305 million of the total project cost of $462.75 million, while the remaining $147.75 million will be provided by the Karnataka government. Under this phase, the improvement of a total 616 km of state highways is being undertaken and is expected to be completed by June 2018.
In December 2017, ADB approved a loan worth $346 million for KSHIP-III, under which about 419 km of state highways will be upgraded to two and four lanes with paved shoulders while culverts and bridges will be improved. The project will see the construction of planned pedestrian pavements, the installation of user-friendly elements including bus shelters, footpaths and proper signages, among others. Under this phase, five road sections have been identified for upgradation. These sections are the 23.7 km Kollegal-Hannur road, the 39.8 km Chintamani-Andhra Pradesh border road, the 50.9 km Bengaluru-Magadi-Kunigal road, the 165.4 km Magadi-Near Somwarpet road and the 138.2 km Gadag-Honnali road. The project entails an investment of $655 million.
Contracts will be based on a hybrid annuity model with a seven-year annuity period, post construction. The project will carry out a road safety audit to identify critical accident spots on state highways on the core road network, and implement suitable measures to improve these areas. The project is due for completion by 2023.
The road ahead
After the completion of KSHIP-I, a majority of the project roads displayed acceptable levels of road quality in terms of the International Roughness Index. However, five to seven years after upgradation/rehabilitation, some of the project roads are beginning to show signs of distress. Superior planning efforts and adequate maintenance funding will be needed to prevent further deterioration that may soon require expensive rehabilitation. The study on the establishment of a road fund to ensure long-term availability of funds for road maintenance was completed as planned and is being pursued under the follow-on project – KSHIP-II. Road safety across the state has improved in terms of accident-related fatalities per 10,000 registered vehicles during the project period and beyond, though the gross number of fatalities continues to rise. Institutional improvements – including capacity for planning, management and the road information system – need to be consolidated and carried forward.
KSHIP will go a long way in improving transport connectivity in the state. Road upgradation being carried out under the programme will enable higher vehicle speeds and improve riding quality, thereby, resulting in time and cost savings.