The road development activity at the state level has been erratic since the onset of the pandemic. The execution of new road projects, as well as the prompt completion of existing ones, has been a priority. State road development authorities have been taking the necessary steps to decongest cities by building expressways, ring roads and flyovers. Furthermore, in their respective budgets for 2021-22, the state governments have set up significant funds for road development. The sector’s finances are also being strengthened by the involvement of multilateral institutions. However, project implementation continues to be sluggish.
Expressway development in Uttar Pradesh remained strong. The Purvanchal expressway project has been allocated Rs 11.07 billion under Budget 2021-22. The project, spanning 340.82 km, is estimated to cost Rs 224.95 billion. As of October 11, 2021, physical progress of the work is 98 per cent. The government also has plans to expand the Purvanchal expressway up to Balia and has directed the concerned department to prepare a detailed proposal in this regard. Another key expressway near completion is the Bundelkhand expressway of length 296.07 km, being implemented at an estimated cost of Rs 147.16 billion (Rs 77.67 is the contracted cost). An allocation of Rs 14.92 billion had been made under the Budget 2021-22. As of October 11, 2021, construction progress of the expressway is 73 per cent.
The Gorakhpur Link expressway spanning 91.35 km is 29 per cent completed, and 96.19 per cent progress has been made in the land acquisition process. The total cost of the project, including the cost of land, is Rs 58.77 billion. Under Budget 2021-22, funds worth Rs 8.6 billion have been allocated for the project.
The Uttar Pradesh government is also set to expand the upcoming Ganga expressway from Prayagraj to Varanasi, as well as from Meerut to Haridwar. On approval, the length of the expressway will increase by 150 km. It is expected to entail an investment of Rs 364 billion. In July 2021, the Uttar Pradesh cabinet approved the proposal for a Rs 44.8 billion loan from Punjab National Bank to purchase land for the Ganga expressway project. Loan for the Rs 360 billion project will be given based on toll revenue securitisation from the Agra-Lucknow expressway. This is the first attempt by a government institution to get resources on an asset securitisation basis in the infrastructure sector.
In July 2021, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) started the process of bringing out the sixth toll-operate-transfer bundle for the Agra Bypass and Jhansi-Shivpuri national highway stretches in Uttar Pradesh, as part of its monetisation drive.
The Maharashtra government has made consistent efforts for the speedy development of expressways, link roads, ring roads and coastal roads. In fact, in July 2021, the Maharashtra Public Works Department (PWD) set a record by building a 25.54 km stretch of road in just 14 hours, breaking an NHAI’s earlier record of completing the same stretch in 18 hours. The state government has allocated 5.2 per cent of the total expenditure to roads and bridges, which is higher than the average allocation by other states. Funds worth Rs 260 billion have been allocated for the 170 km Pune-Pimpri-Chinchwad Ring Road project. In addition, an allocation of Rs 129.5 billion has been made to the Maharashtra PWD. An amount of Rs 95.73 billion has been allocated for implementation of the Konkan (Chirle-Patradevi) Expressway project while Rs 73.50 billion has been allocated to the Rural Road Development Plan.
On September 8, 2021, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the central government signed a $300 million loan agreement as additional funding for the Maharashtra Rural Connectivity Improvement Project. Approved in August 2019, the project is currently improving rural roads of a total length of 2,100 km with $200 million financing. The additional financing of $300 million is envisaged to improve another 1,100 rural roads and 230 bridges with an aggregate length of 2,900 km in 34 districts.
One of the key ongoing projects in Maharashtra is the 29.2 km Mumbai Coastal Road Project with a cost of Rs 127.21 billion. Currently, about 17 per cent of the construction work has been completed. The other major project is the Mumbai-Nagpur Super Communication Expressway Project (Samruddhi Expressway) with an aggregate length of 701.36 km and an estimated cost of Rs 554.77 billion. It is being implemented in the engineering, procurement, and construction mode. About 55 per cent work has been completed on the project.
The Telangana government has made significant strides in the implementation of road projects in the state. It is focusing on the construction of integrated collectorate and district police offices in all the district centres. The state government has allocated 2.6 per cent of its total budget expenditure for 2021-22 to roads and bridges.
The Strategic Road Development Plan (SRDP), approved in May 2015, is one of the main road projects of the state. Under this, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation has proposed to construct flyovers, sky-walks and grade separators at 18 locations on various road stretches in Hyderabad. Since 2014, the civic body under the SRDP has completed 17 major works, which include flyovers, road over bridges and road under bridges in busy corridors of the city as well as suburbs, while several other works are in progress.
For the Hyderabad Regional Ring Road project, the Telangana government allocated funds worth Rs 7.5 billion under budget 2021-22. The funds will be used for land acquisition purposes. The project involves the construction of a 338 km regional ring road in Hyderabad at a cost of Rs 159.8 billion under the Metropolitan Development Plan-2031. Furthermore, the government has taken up a project to improve the road transport connectivity to the Outer Ring Road (ORR) from the core of the city and surrounding areas, which will include a 1 km stretch on either side of the growth corridor zone of the ORR.
In September 2021, H.G. Infra Engineering received a letter of award from NHAI for the construction of two four-lane access-controlled new greenfield highways in Telangana in hybrid annuity mode. The projects fall under the intercorridor route under the Bharatmala Pariyojana.
Initiatives have also been taken to address the growing concerns regarding road safety. In August 2021, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) in coordination with the Telangana police, the health and transport departments, launched an Integrated Road Accident Database project. It is being funded by the World Bank and has been taken up by MoRTH in many states to identify black spots.
The Karnataka government allocated 4.8 per cent of its total budget expenditure for 2021-22 to roads and bridges in order to improve the road infrastructure through the development of economic corridors, flyovers and bridges. Funds worth Rs 30 billion have been allocated for the implementation of the Bengaluru Peripheral Ring Road (PRR) project. Funds of around Rs 1.4 billion have been allocated for the Zadshahapura-Belagavi Ring Road project. In January 2021, The Karnataka government decided to expand major roads in the Central Business District areas and streamline traffic in Bengaluru at a cost of Rs 300 million. The Home Department has also sanctioned Rs 1 billion for road safety, new traffic signal installation, and safety of traffic police in major cities. Apart from this, Rs 4.7 billion has been sanctioned to modify 12 high-density corridors in the state.
In May 2021, the Government of Andhra Pradesh sanctioned funds worth Rs 14.5 billion to the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation for the construction of the Krishnapatnam node under the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor project. The central government had proposed to develop the Chennai-Bangalore-Chitradurga Industrial Corridor as an inter-state industrial corridor passing through the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka at an investment of Rs 1,560.816 billion. The project is jointly funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation and the central government.
The Bengaluru PRR Phase I is one of the key upcoming projects. The Karnataka government has asked the Bengaluru Development Authority (BDA) to prioritise this project. The 65.5 km project will come at a huge environmental cost as more than 33,000 trees will have to be removed. BDA has decided to opt for global competitive bidding for the project. As per estimates, the project will cost more than Rs 210 billion, including Rs 150 billion for land acquisition.
Significant progress has been made at the state level despite the varied challenges posed by the pandemic. That said, issues such as delays in land acquisition and execution of projects still persist. Several steps have been taken to mitigate these issues, but there is still a long way to go. It is critical to overcome these difficulties in order to speed up the construction of road infrastructure across states.