It was about 20 years ago that the Rajasthan public works department (PWD) conceived the idea of developing a ring road for the city of Jaipur. The project broke ground in 2011 and in March 2019, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways finally inaugurated Phase I of the ring road. The Jaipur ring road is a classic case of a project suffering inordinate delays on account of issues in land acquisition, grant of clearances, inter-ministerial coordination, etc. However, its inauguration is expected to set the stage for development of ring roads in Rajasthan.
The route taken
The 46 km Phase I of the Jaipur ring road forms part of a plan conceived by the Rajasthan PWD in 2000 to construct an elevated, six-lane, 144.75 km divided carriageway around the city of Jaipur. While Phases I and II form the southern corridor of the ring road, Phase III envisages the development of the northern corridor.
Phase I of the project entailed the construction of a six-lane divided carriageway with paved shoulders from km 0.3 to km 46.7 joining Ajmer road on National Highway (NH)-8, Phaggi road on State Highway-12, Tonk road on NH-12 and Agra road on NH-11. It was divided into three sections – Agra road-Tonk road, Tonk road-Malpura road and Malpura road-Ajmer road. It also included the construction of 32 underpasses, two flyovers, two rail overbridges (RoBs), three road overbridges and two toll plazas. Phase I entailed an investment to the tune of Rs 12.61 billion. Further, Phase II of the project, which involves the construction of two cloverleaves at Ajmer road and Agra road and an over bridge across Tonk road, will be developed at an estimated cost of Rs 2.4 billion.
As per the original plan, under Phase III, the state PWD envisaged the construction of a 97.75 km road connecting Agra road, Delhi road, Sikar road and Ajmer road. However, as per the revised alignment, only a 50 km corridor connecting Delhi road and Agra road will be taken up. The Chandwaji Expressway will be used as the ring road to the Delhi and Ajmer roads via Sikar road.
Journey so far
Announced in 2000, the project was initially undertaken by the Jaipur Development Authority (JDA). The feasibility-cum-preliminary project report for the project was prepared by Nicholas O’Dwyer Consulting Engineers International Company and UPHAM International Corporation, while AFII Corporate Advisors Private Limited was the legal adviser for the project. Further, the modified detailed project report was prepared by Tata Consulting Engineers Limited while Ashliya Consultants Private Limited carried out topographical survey.
In June 2011, the project was awarded to a consortium of Supreme Infrastructure India Limited and Spain’s San Jose Constructora. Subsequently, a special purpose vehicle, Sanjose Supreme Tollways Development Private Limited, was incorporated for project implementation through the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) route. As per the terms of the agreement, the project was expected to be completed within two years from the commencement of construction. However, in October 2016, the Rajasthan government decided to terminate the contract after the concessionaire failed to achieve any noticeable progress on the project.
Following termination of the contract, an MoU was signed between JDA and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) in August 2017 for completion of the balance work on the project. Subsequently, NHAI issued a request for proposal for the selection of an EPC contractor, and in December 2017, Gawar Construction Limited emerged as the lowest bidder for the project from amongst a group of 15 companies that had expressed interest in the project. NHAI then had to seek approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for awarding the contract to Gawar Construction Limited as a 5 per cent stake in the company is held by a Chinese firm. However, the matter was ultimately resolved and the letter of award was issued to the company.
Reeling under a financial crisis, JDA sought an advance of Rs 2 billion from NHAI to acquire the 26 hectares of land required for construction of the cloverleaves under the project. To clear this hurdle, a supplementary MoU was signed between NHAI and JDA in June 2018. As per this MoU, NHAI agreed to deposit an advance amount of Rs 2 billion in a new bank account to be utilised by JDA. This amount has been deducted from the Rs 3.5 billion which NHAI was to provide to JDA in 10 years after toll is levied. Moreover, JDA will be paying an interest of 8 per cent on the advance amount.
Current status and operational challenges
While Phase I of the project has already been inaugurated, only a 27 km road stretch from Tonk road to Ajmer road has been opened for public operations. Another two months will be required to complete other necessary infrastructure on the operational stretch such as electricity poles, traffic lights, CCTV cameras, as well as side lanes and underbridges. Further, only four of the total 24 pathways at the toll plaza have been opened to the public.
The ring road project is facing further delays as the construction of two RoBs on the Jaipur-Delhi and Jaipur-Sawai Madhopur railway sections, envisaged under the project, has been stopped. This is on account of the fact that the requisite permission from Indian Railways is still awaited despite an MoU which had been signed between the Ministry of Railways and the MoRTH for the construction in November 2014. Of the two RoBs, one is planned to be constructed between the Kanauta and Khatipura stations while the other will be constructed between the Shivdaspura and Padampura stations.
Due to the absence of cloverleaves, that will ensure connectivity to all highways, the ring road cannot be fully utilised. In June 2019, the JDA finally handed over the requisite land required for construction of the cloverleaves to NHAI. Meanwhile, the land acquisition process for Phase III of the ring road is also expected to commence soon.
Though delayed, the commissioning of the ring road will certainly present a strong case for the construction of more such projects in the state. However, taking a cue from the implementation experience of the Jaipur ring road, there is a need to ensure that project delays resulting from land acquisition, issues in obtaining requisite clearances, inter-ministerial coordination, etc. are dealt with in a timely manner. Further, a mechanism should be put in place to ensure that all the challenges which surface upon project commissioning are dealt with beforehand. Addressing these issues is of the utmost importance, especially since the government has laid ambitious plans for the development of the ring road segment.