Making Headway: Road development across key states

Road development across key states

The state-level experience in road development has been mixed. State governments have been keenly focusing on implementing new road projects, along with swift execution of ongoing ones. State road development agencies have been taking the requisite steps to decongest cities through construction of expressways, ring roads and flyovers. Besides, state governments have allocated significant funds for road development in their respective budgets for 2019-20. Finances also continue to be supported by the increasing multilateral involvement in the sector. However, the pace of project implementation continues to be slow and several states still find it difficult to ensure speedy implementation of crucial projects.

Maharashtra

Over the years, Maharashtra has been focusing on the expeditious development of expressways, link roads, ring roads and coastal roads.

Despite facing financial hurdles, the Maharashtra government has reported modest progress on the 701 km Mumbai-Nagpur Communication Expressway project that is expected to be completed by 2022. Reportedly, Nagpur-Mumbai Super Communication Expressway Limited, a special purpose vehicle formed by the joint venture of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) and the Korea Expressway Corporation, achieved financial closure for the project in September 2019. Of the total project cost of Rs 554.77 billion, Rs 274.77 billion will be invested by the state government, while funds worth Rs 280 billion have been raised by obtaining loans from a State Bank of India-led consortium of banks. Besides, the state cabinet had accorded a bank guarantee of Rs 40 billion in July 2019 towards a loan being raised from the consortium.

In another noteworthy development, construction work on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway augmentation project commenced in September 2019. The project is being implemented in two packages at an estimated investment of Rs 70 billion. Package I has been awarded to Navayuga Engineering Company Limited, while Package II has been awarded to Afcons Infrastructure Limited.

Further, construction work on Package III of the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) project was initiated in September 2019. The project is expected to be completed by June 2022, ahead of its scheduled completion deadline of December 2022. The project involves the construction of a six-lane road bridge across the Mumbai Harbour between Sewri in the Mumbai Port Trust area and Nhava/Chirle on the Navi Mumbai side in three packages at an investment of Rs 185 billion.

The experience in terms of development of coastal roads in the state has been varied. On the one hand, the Bombay High Court in July 2019 stayed construction work on the Rs 140 billion Mumbai coastal road project spanning 29.2 km between north and south Mumbai, amid environmental clearance issues, while on the other hand, City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Limited accorded approval for the construction of the MTHL coastal road in Mumbai from Amra Marg to MTHL Junction at a cost of Rs 7.11 billion.

Maharashtra’s steering committee has accorded approval to a 5 km road stretch on the eastern part of the Pune Ring Road project, being implemented by the Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA). Besides, the 7 km stretch proposed to be implemented by the MSRDC has now been included in the PMRDA’s development plan. The project entails construction of a 129 km ring road in the state in six segments and is expected to be completed by 2022. Maharashtra is also planning to construct a 36 km high capacity mass transit route or inner ring road in Pune.

The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai is also planning to connect eight roads and construct at least seven new flyovers in the state under its Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP). Further, the corporation has identified about 41 road connectivity projects spanning about 220 km, to be developed over a period of about 15 years under its Mumbai Development Plan 2034. The CMP will be executed in two phases over a period of 20 years at an expected cost of Rs 1.68 trillion.

Delhi

The Delhi government has been keenly focusing on the development of roads, flyovers and underpasses to deal with the growing traffic congestion in the city.

In a much-awaited move, the 2.7 km Rao Tula Ram Marg parallel flyover project was inaugurated on July 16, 2019. Construction work on the project was completed in June 2019 at a cost of Rs 3.1 billion. Besides, the Delhi Public Works Department (PWD) is fast-tracking construction work on the 1.2 km underground tunnel project at Pragati Maidan as a part of the Integrated Transit Corridor Development Plan. Having achieved about 60 per cent progress, the project is expected to be completed by January 2020, ahead of the scheduled completion date of March 31, 2020. However, the PWD has scrapped the eagerly awaited Phase IV of the Barapullah flyover project proposed to link south Delhi with the Indira Gandhi International Airport, and the department is considering different alternatives to the project. Phases I and II of the project are already functional, while Phase III is likely to be completed by 2020.

The Delhi government has also proposed the construction of a 11.2 km triple-deck train-vehicular flyover/underpass in order to decongest the Mehrauli-Badarpur Road connecting Delhi and Gurugram. The project will be jointly implemented by the PWD and the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation.

Uttar Pradesh

Expressway development has received substantial impetus in the state in the recent past. Besides, foundation stones have been laid for a number of road and bridge projects in cities such as Moradabad, Meerut, Baghpat, Muzaffarnagar and Bulandshahr. The state government has earmarked about Rs 32 billion for construction of expressways under the 2019-20 state budget. Of the allocated amount, Rs 11.94 billion will be used for the construction of the Purvanchal Expressway while Rs 10 billion each has been provided for the Bundelkhand Expressway and the Gorakhpur Link Expressway.

The Gorakhpur Link Expressway and Bundelkhand Expressway projects have attracted technical bids from a number of companies, with Packages I and II of the Gorakhpur Link Expressway attracting bids from 13 companies and Packages I-VI of the Bundelkhand Expressway attracting bids from 18 companies. Further, financial bids for both projects are expected to be issued in October 2019. The Gorakhpur Link Expressway will cut across Gorakhpur, Sant Kabir Nagar, Ambedkar Nagar and Azamgarh and is expected to be completed at a cost of

Rs 58.77 billion, while the 296 km Bundelkhand Expressway will traverse through the districts of Chitrakoot, Banda, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Jalaun, Auraiya  and Etawah and is expected to entail an estimated investment of Rs 148.49 billion.

The state has also conceptualised the four-lane Ganga Expressway project. Currently, the detailed project report is being prepared for the project, while the government is yet to approve the final alignment of Phase I of the project. The project entails the construction of a 596 km four-lane access-controlled expressway over the Ganga river from Meerut to Prayagraj at an investment of Rs 360 billion.

The Bank of Baroda has provided a loan of Rs 20 billion for the 340 km Purvanchal Expressway, which is likely to be completed by August 2020 at a cost of Rs 230 billion. Further, the state has tied up with Punjab National Bank and Corporation Bank for additional loans worth Rs 88 billion for the project. The expressway will provide seamless connectivity between the eastern part of the state and the National Capital Region via the operational Agra-Lucknow Expressway and the Agra-Greater Noida Yamuna Expressway.

Besides, a number of ring road projects have witnessed significant progress. Construction work on Phase II of the Varanasi Ring Road project has commenced and is expected to be completed within 30 months. Package I of the Lucknow Ring Road project was awarded to PNC Infratech Limited in August 2019 and the project is expected to be completed in 36 months at a cost of Rs 10.62 billion. The Rs 8.68 billion Meerut-Bulandshahr highway four-laning project is expected to be completed by February 2020. Currently, about 73 per cent of work on the project has been completed.

Karnataka

The Karnataka government is focusing on improving road infrastructure through the development of economic corridors, flyovers and bridges. The state government has allocated Rs 100 billion for the development of 7,940 km of roads under the State Highway Development Project as part of the 2019-20 state budget.

The government is expediting the implementation of the 115 km Mysuru-Madikeri Economic Corridor Expressway project. Currently, the project is in the land acquisition phase and is expected to be completed at a cost of Rs 60 billion. However, the government has cancelled bids issued for the implementation of the Rs 68.85 billion Central Silk Board Junction-Hebbal Elevated Corridor project in Bengaluru, owing to irregularities in the bidding process and project execution plan. Bids for the project were invited by Karnataka Road Development Corporation Limited in March 2019.

The road-cum-rail double-decker flyover project between Ragigudda and the Central Silk Board in Bengaluru is expected to be completed by October 2021. Spanning 3.35 km, it will also be the first double-decker flyover in southern India.

The recent experience in terms of bridge development in the state has been varied. The central government has accorded the letter of acceptance to Dilip Buildcon Limited for construction of the 2.13 km Ambargodlu-Kalasawali bridge at a cost of Rs 3.6 billion. The project is expected to be completed in three years. However, the state government has scrapped the plan for construction of the 6.7 km six-lane Basaveshwara Circle-Hebbal steel bridge in Bengaluru. The move comes on account of widespread public opposition to the construction of the Rs 17.21 billion bridge.

The state government has also proposed to undertake works for the improvement and upgradation of roads and bridges in the state at an investment of Rs 57 billion.

Tamil Nadu

The Tamil Nadu government has taken commendable steps to expedite the implementation of road projects in the state. Funds to the tune of Rs 45.21 billion have been sanctioned by the state government for 2019-20 for the development of road infrastructure in the state.

The Chennai Peripheral Ring Road project is set to decongest the city’s growing traffic. The central government has inked a Rs 24.7 billion loan agreement with the Japan International Cooperation Agency for implementing Phase I of the project, besides approving the state government’s proposal to seek a $478 million loan from the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and the OPEC Fund for International Development for implementing Phases II and III of the project. The 133.38 km peripheral road will connect Ennore port to Poonjeri Junction in Mahabalipuram and is expected to entail an investment of $827.43 million.

Besides, the National Highways Authority of India has fast-tracked the implementation of the Semi-Ring Road project in Tiruchirappalli, proposed to connect five national highways in the state. The project is being implemented in two phases, with construction work on Phase II having commenced in July 2019. Phase I of the project is currently at the land acquisition stage.

The government is also expediting the land acquisition process for the 20.5 km Chennai port-Maduravoyal elevated expressway project. Reportedly, fresh bids for the project are likely to be reissued in two months. Further, work on the Maduravoyal-Ennore elevated expressway project is set to resume, after the state government decided to withdraw its special leave petition filed in July 2019.

However, the 277.3 km Chennai-Salem eight-lane expressway project has been hanging fire amid stiff opposition from activists and residents alleging a loss of agricultural land and forests. The Rs 100 billion project is expected to cut down travel time between Chennai and Salem significantly.

Kerala

The Kerala government has reportedly agreed to develop 600 km of national highways across the state at a cost of Rs 60 billion. The Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board has allocated funds for 39 infrastructure projects estimated at Rs 17.45 billion, including the Rs 1.31 billion elevated flyover project at South Bazar Junction, Kannur and the Rs 2.05 billion Arayadathupalam-Karanthur road improvement project in Kozhikode. The government has also approved six road projects, and 10 overbridge and flyover project being implemented by the state PWD.

The Kasaragod-Thiruvananthapuram highway project is currently at the land acquisition stage. The central and state governments have signed an MoU for land acquisition for the Rs 440 billion project. As per the MoU, the Kerala government is likely to allocate funds worth Rs 50 billion for acquisition of 1,100 hectares of land for the project.

However, Thiruvananthapuram’s Outer Ring Road project is expected to be delayed at least by a year due to land acquisition issues faced by the government. The ring road, estimated to require an investment of Rs 48.68 billion, will connect National Highway-66, state highways and the Main Central Road, starting from Parippally and passing through Andoorkonam, Vattapara, Aruvikara, Ooruttambalam, Balaramapuram and Vizhinjam bypass in Kerala.

Summing up

At the state level, significant headway has been made with regard to reduction of congestion on city roads. Although state governments have taken initiatives to fast-track land acquisition for road projects, there is still a long way to go in this regard. A number of highway projects have been stalled over the past year owing to unavailability of adequate land and shifting of utilities. Several other projects are facing serious opposition from the locals raising environmental concerns. The need of the hour is to address these issues to expedite the development of road infrastructure across states.