Friday, August 31, 2012

Dr. C. P. Joshi Inaugurates India Infrastructure Summit - 2012
The Engineering, Procurement and Construction(EPC) mode of execution shall ensure implementation of the road projects to specified standards with a fair degree of certainty relating to costs and time while transferring the design & construction risks to the contractors. This was stated by Dr. C.P. Joshi, the Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways while delivering inaugural address at the “India Infrastructure Summit-2012: Accelerating Implementation of Infrastructure Projects” organized by FICCI here today. The Summit was attended by the representatives from Industry, Developers, Concessionaires, Bankers, Lenders and Financial Institutions. He said that his Ministry is planning to award 4,000 Kilometres of Highway projects under the EPC mode contract this year. These projects will primarily aim at two-laning of single-laned roads on existing right of way thus not involving much Land Acquisition.

He said that with the active participation of Planning Commission and Ministry of Finance, his Ministry has evolved and formulated the EPC Agreement document to enable the contractual framework for construction of highways in an efficient, economical and competitive environment. The Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure has recently accorded its approval to the EPC Contract document. It will minimize, if not eliminate, the time and cost over-runs characteristic of the extant Item Rate Contracts. Further, this will enable a faster roll-out of projects with least cost and greater efficiency & flexibility encouraging Contractors to participate in such projects.

Referring to the impact of impact of the serious and concerted efforts made by the Government post recession which led to continuous improvement of awards of projects from 639 Kilometres in 2008-09 to 3360 Kilometres in 2009-10 followed by 5082 Kilometres in 2010-11, he informed the participants that the financial year 2011-12 has been an outstanding year for the Indian Road Sector. A record length of 7957 Kilometres of National Highways were awarded for strengthening/upgradation and improvement and over 2200 Kilometres were completed during the year 2011-12.

Applauding the highest ever achievement so far for the nation since independence, Dr. Joshi complimented the role played by the Infrastructure Industry in effecting the same. The targets that the Government has set for this sector are ambitious but it has in the recent past surpassed earlier performance emphatically. This inspires his Ministry to fulfill the challenging targets in the days ahead. This year the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has planned to award 9,500 Kilometres of National Highways for widening and upgradation. This can only be achieved when we synergize our efforts in a positive and pro-active manner.

He informed the participants that his Ministry has recently got the approval of Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure for awarding the already completed projects in the NHAI domain on Operate-Maintain-Transfer or OMT basis. It has also planned to award road projects covering around 4,000 kilometers for better maintenance primarily under OMT mode through the Public Private Partnership route. This would not only help improve the existing roads with better maintenance, leading to higher level of users’ satisfaction but also open a new line of business for OMT Concessionaires.

The Minister said that for PPP projects, tolling has been a bone of contention between different stakeholders in the sector. While several issues related to the quantum of tolling have been sorted out, his Ministry is trying to resolve the left over issues as well. To infuse efficiency, electronic toll collection (ETC) is being encouraged and facilitated by the Government. In this regard, the country’s first RFID Technology Based Electronic Toll collection Plaza at Chandimandir near Panchkula in Haryana had been inaugurated earlier this year. The Ministry is committed to make all toll plazas, RFID compliant by January 2014.

Referring to the related disputes in the sector, he said that around Rupees Eleven Thousand Crores have been stuck up in disputes in the roads and highway sector. This is a cause for concern and the Government has taken serious measures to resolve these issues at the earliest by conforming to the report of the BK Chaturvedi Committee for faster resolution of pending disputes pertaining to National Highways Development Project (NHDP) works.

Further, an Independent Expert Group has also been constituted comprising former Chief Justice of High Court as Head and former Deputy Comptroller & Auditor General, former Vigilance Commissioner among others.

Highlighting the National Road Safety Policy, he said that it has approved promoting awareness, establishing road safety information data base, encouraging safer road infrastructure including application of intelligent transport systems, enforcement of safety laws, setting up of state road safety councils and district road safety committees etc. Besides these, road safety has been made an integral part of road design at planning stage, safety audits of selected stretches of National Highways/ Expressways are being conducted, safety standards of vehicles are being enforced categorically, and publicity campaigns on road safety awareness are being taken up among others.

Dr. Joshi said that in order to enhance the road safety on national highways, his Ministry directed that project designs, while meeting safety standards, provide for various measures to enhance the Road Safety like segregation of local and through traffic by constructing flyovers, underpasses, bypasses, service roads etc. Safety features like road markings, adequate and all weather visible signages, crash barriers, raised pavement markers etc are provided. Safety of pedestrian is of great importance and pedestrian facilities like zebra crossings, pedestrian underpasses, foot over bridges, pedestrian guardrails etc have to be necessarily provided. Ambulances are being provided at an average stretch of 50 km on National Highways entrusted to NHAI and tow away cranes are available at every toll plaza. New locations have been identified for development of wayside amenities. 

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