Need for more expressways
According to a study, infrastructure development will attract
investment of around INR 14 tn in the next six years. The government has
realised the significance of improving road infrastructure in terms of providing
wider accessibility to rural areas, adding traffic capacity and improving
service levels on highway network.
The ministry of road transport & highway and the Planning Commission, therefore,
formulated Vision 2021 for the next 20 years. Vision 2020 has been segmented
into two phases: Period 2001-2011 and Period 2012-2021, and sets out physical
targets in terms of length of roads and financial targets and total cost
involved in expressways, national highways and state highway development.
Around Rs 1.5 trillion of road-related expenditure over the next six years or 10
per cent of total infrastructure investment over the same period is expected. On
the whole, the present scenario is optimistic, as compared to the past. Today,
India is equipped with the latest technologies (up to a certain extent) and can
expect to succeed in creating and maintaining world-class road and bridges
But there is a lot to be done to improvise roads and bridges. India is way
behind China in development of expressways. India has a measly 200 km
expressways, whereas China has built about 40,000 km since 1991. India has a
programme of only 1,000 km expressways up to 2012. Water logging, potholes,
dug-up roads and large slums are a common sight on Indian roads. No proper
provision for drainage system is made while constructing roads and bridges.
At the same time, works are awarded without actually giving encumbrance-free
sites. A contractor is made responsible for liaison with the concerned authority
for getting clearance of all utilities and land. "All land acquisition
procedures are to be completed before award of work," suggests a player from the
industry. Proper maps are not available with government authorities, which will
show the exact position of underlying utilities. Even the criteria for awarding
a contract to the lowest bidder in the tendering process should go. The industry
is facing acute shortage of qualified and experienced manpower.
There is shortage of experienced civil engineers. Maintenance of infrastructure
is another important issue. There is no provision in the budget for maintenance,
as a result assets become unusable after five to 10 years. The modern method of
toll collection should be used so that toll barriers do not become bottlenecks.
[31 July 2006]