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Year Ender 2020: Despite pandemic, India marches ahead with vast expansion of National Highways

Year Ender 2020: Due to consistent efforts of Road Transport and Highways Ministry, length of the National Highways has increased from 91,287 km in April, 2014 to about 1,36,155 km as on 20 December 2020.




New Delhi: The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, under the stewardship of Nitin Gadkari has been setting new milestones with several highway projects being allocated and rolled out in a defined time frame.

Expediting Bharatmala Pariyojana, making highways free of toll plazas, containing accidents on red lights are some of the initiatives actively pursued by Road Transport Minister.

In last 6 years of NDA rule, the Ministry has taken several policy decisions.

In 2019-20, projects with about 8948 km length was awarded and about 10,237 km length of road construction was completed. The rate of development of roads has increased significantly from about 11.7 km during 2013-14 to about 28 km now.

Due to consistent efforts of the Ministry, length of the National Highways (NHs) has increased from 91,287 km in April, 2014 to about 1,36,155 km as on 20 December 2020.

Ministry sets up target of 60,000 km Highways by 2025

The Ministry proposes to develop additional 60,000 km of National Highways in the next five years, of which 2500 km are Expressways /Access Controlled Highways, 9000 km Economic Corridors, 2000 km for Coastal and Port Connectivity Highways and 2000 km Border Road/ Strategic Highways. The Ministry also intends to improve connectivity for 100 tourist destinations and construct Bypasses for 45 towns/cities during this period.

Expenditure of Ministry increased from Rs 33,745 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 1,50,841 crore in 2019-20. Also private investment amounting to Rs 21,926 crore has been achieved during 2019-20. During the current year, an expenditure of Rs 79,415 crore has already been incurred till November 2020, including IEBR of NHAI. Also private investment of Rs 8,186 crore has been achieved up to November 2020.

Bharatmala Pariyojana and Multi-modal Logistics Parks (MMLPs)

The Bharatmala Pariyojana, which is approved by CCEA, includes the development of 35 Multi-modal Logistics Parks (MMLPs) at various locations across the country. These MMLPs are being developed on a ‘Hub and Spoke’ model and being implemented by NHAI and NHIDCL (in North-East India). The development of these MMLPs is one of the endeavours of the Pariyojana to eradicate Logistics related deficiencies in India, to draw the associated costs down and to strategically integrate highway projects and other connectivity initiatives like inland waterways, railways etc. in tandem with the freight distribution ecosystem.

A separate company under the NHAI named ‘National Highways Logistics Management Limited’ (NHLML) has been incorporated to carry the development of the MMLPs and works related to National Highway connectivity for ports.

A) Concept & Benefits of MMLPs

A Multi-Modal Logistics Park (MMLP) acts as an inter-modal freight-handling facility with mechanized material handling provisions which contains warehouses, specialized cold chain facilities, freight / container terminals and bulk / break-bulk cargo terminals.
Typically, MMLPs include inter-modal connectivity such as dedicated Railway line/Spur, access from prominent Highway(s) / Expressway(s) to allow movement of commercial vehicles and connectivity to an Airport or a Seaport (or Inland waterway Terminal).
As a value addition, the MMLPs shall also include services such as customs clearance, provisions for late stage processing activities such as sorting / grading, aggregation / disaggregation, cold storage etc. to provide flexibility to the users at a single location.

B) Status of MMLPs proposed under the Bharatmala Pariyojana

Since 2017, MoRTH in collaboration with NHAI and NHIDCL has progressed significantly in the implementation of the MMLP projects:
The MMLP at Jogighopa (Assam) is the first project for which the development work has been initiated. The foundation stone of the project was laid on 20.10.20 by Minister of RT&H and the same is being implemented by NHIDCL in Assam.

The MMLP at Chennai, Nagpur & Bangalore are at advanced stage of SPV formation and in case of MMLP Surat and Mumbai, a commitment for land from respective stakeholders is awaited. MMLP Sangrur (Punjab) has not been found viable for development of MMLP and a road -based Warehousing Park is found optimal for this location, which is situated along the Jammu-Katra Highway.

Further, feasibility assessment of seven more locations has been concluded and NHAI has been accorded with an approval for undertaking DPR exercises for MMLP Coimbatore & Hyderabad which has been found feasible in terms of demand analysis as per pre-feasibility report.

On a similar pattern, feasibility studies are to be carried out for the remaining 21 locations to assess the viability of development as per potential of Industrial demand, land availability etc. Additionally, 4 more locations viz. Anantpur (AP), Singrauli (MP), Sahebganj (Jharkhand) and Silchar (Assam) have been recommended by the respective State governments for development of MMLP under the Bharatmala Pariyojana. The feasibility assessment of these four additional locations is also being undertaken.

Development of dedicated National Highway Connectivity for Ports (as part of Bharatmala Pariyojana):

a) The MoRTH is committed to enhance the ports logistics ecosystem and is working hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Shipping to develop dedicated first mile national highway connectivity for certain identified ports & IWT terminals.
b) This effort is expected to eradicate multiple traffic related issues such as:
* Removal of congestion points in city locations where the Cargo vehicles directed towards ports meets city traffic by means of lane expansion / lane & grade separation
* Reduction in delays caused due to restrictions on commercial vehicles movement during certain hours of the day as per state/Local Urban regulations
* Reduction in road accidents through separation of Commercial and Passenger vehicle traffic

AtmaNirbhar Bharat: Relief for contractors/developers of road sector

As an integral part of Atmanirbhar Bharat, the following measures have been taken by the MoRTH for providing relief to Contractors/ Developers/Concessionaires of Road Sector from the impact of COVID, subsequent lockdown and other measures taken to prevent spread of COVID.
Relief to the contractors, concessionaries and developers of road sector
(i) Retention money (which is a part of the Performance Security till construction period) is recommended to be released in proportion to the work already executed in accordance with the Contract specification and further retention money from the period from 3 months to up to 6 months may not be deducted from the Bills raised by the Contractor. For HAM/ BOT Contracts, Performance Guarantee can be released on pro-rata basis of that as provided in the Contract, if Concessionaire is not in breach of the Contract.
(ii) Extension of Time to Contractor/ Concessionaire for meeting their obligation under the Contract for 3 months to up to 6 months depending on site conditions.
(iii) Relaxation in Schedule H to provide monthly payment to the Contractor for the work done and accepted as per the specification of the contract during the month EPC/HAM Contract.
(iv) Direct payment to approved Sub-Contractor through Escrow Account.
(v) Waiver of penalty for delay in submission of Performance Security/ Bank Guarantee in new Contract entered into during March, 2020 to September, 2020.
(vi) To allow Extension of Time to Consultants i.e IE/AE for 3 to 6 months depending on site condition. During this Force Majeure Event, they may be considered as if they were on duty.
(vii) BOT/ TOT Concessionaire: Before CoD, the concession period of BOT contracts shall be extended by a period equal in length to the duration of 3 months to up to 6 months. Further, for loss in collection of user fee, the concession period shall be extended by a period in accordance with the Contract till the time daily collection is below 90% of the average daily fee.
(viii) For all National Highway Tolling Contracts, loss in collection of fee may be compensated in accordance with the Contract.

Major initiatives under Motor Vehicle legislation

Two extensive systems namely Vahan and Sarathi have been created by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways. These systems have been the backbone of more than 15 applications utilized across the country in different systems. More systems like CNG Maker, SLD Maker, Homologation, National Permit, NR Services, VLT&EAS, eChallan, Fancy Number booking, PUCC etc have been introduced and have been revolutionary in e-governance across States/UTs.

(1) VAHAN: VAHAN is a flagship application under the e-Transport Mission Mode Project, related to Vehicle Registration, Permit, Taxation, Fitness and allied processes. Further, it is customized for each State’s requirements and currently implemented in 33 States / UTs across the country.
Its latest version, VAHAN 4.0, launched on 2nd June, 2015, is a centralized, web enabled application, facilitating easy web-based access to all RTOs, Dealers, Citizens, Transporters and various other stakeholders, while configurability of the application allows addressing state specific customizations. It is currently implemented in more than 1300 RTOs, in the 33 states/ UTs of the country. Apart from this, more than 25,000 Vehicle Dealers and approximately 20,000 PUCC Centres are also connected to VAHAN 4.0.

(2) SARATHI: SARATHI is a flagship application under the e-Transport Mission Mode Project facilitated for computerization of Driving License related services. It is a one-stop solution for issuance of Driving License, Learner License and related services under types of licenses issued by the Transport Department.

Its latest version, SARATHI 4.0 launched on 2nd June, 2015, is a workflow-based application, available in web-based, centralized mode. It is a single solution with varied number of configurable options to cater to the various types of requirements in implementation in different states. It helps in management of Driving, Learner, Conductor and Driving School licenses in RTOs. The application has been customized for each State’s requirements and is currently implemented in over 1300 RTOs, across the 33 States /UTs in the country.

(3) eChallan: eChallan, launched by Nitin Gadkari on 10th January, 2017, was developed on android platform for comprehensive enforcement solution and is complemented by a web application. The prime users are the Transport Enforcement Officers and the Traffic Police personnel. Through this App, on-the-spot challan can be issued for any type of traffic violations and the same can be followed up through different stages of processing. This is a very user-friendly App with a number of advanced features and allows State-level customization, geo-tagging, integration with Google maps, on-spot photographs, online-offline options, integration with e-payment, back-end VAHAN-SARATHI databases and so on. Today, it is an efficient and transparent challan management system where direct notifications to users are being sent even through automated devices. The system has been adopted by 24 States and more than 4.2 Cr challans have been issued across the country till date using this system.

(4) mParivahan: mParivahan , launched by Nitin Gadkari in January, 2017, was developed for citizens and transport operators who can access various transport related services like payment of Road Tax, applying for various services, appointment with RTO, uploading documents etc. It provides a very unique feature of virtual Driving License and virtual Vehicle Registration Certificate through back-end connectivity to the Transport National Register, encrypted QR code and Aadhaar-based authentication – which allows an option to replace existing physical documents/ cards with the secured, enforceable, digital identities. The App also has other informative feature, accident reporting module, violation reporting module and so on.

The applications have been downloaded by over 4 crore users across the country. Available on Android and iOS versions, these apps have found strong connect with citizens.