Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday told key infrastructure ministries to focus on completing ongoing projects instead of just awarding new contracts.
Anxious to ensure that the economic benefits of the UPA’s infrastructure projects were felt and not just heard about, Singh nudged the implementing agencies to tackle all issues standing in the way of projects, and get them back on track.
The Prime Minister gave this piece of advice at a meeting of ministers in charge of infrastructure sectors, after it was hinted by some that they would not be able to meet targets for awarding projects too. For instance, the road ministry has awarded just 10% of its targeted 9,000-km stretches this year, and would be barely able to lay 3,000 km of highways this fiscal. Though this accounts for a 25% hike from last year, it is still a far cry from the projected target of achieving 20 km per day.
Road minister CP Joshi told HT, “The PM took stock of the progress in the highway sector. However, we are not planning to revise the targets set for this fiscal.”
Singh also advised railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal to set up diesel and electric locomotive factories at Madhepura and Marhoura (Bihar) on a war footing. Bansal responded by asking officials to work out new timelines for constructing the two units, to be erected under the PPP mode.
Railway Board chairman Vinay Mittal apprised the PM about rail projects such as the Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC) and the Mumbai Elevated Corridor scheme. He stressed that 96% of land has been acquired for the DFC project.
The shipping ministry has pointed out that of the 42 projects, 38 would be completed before March. Work on certain projects could not be taken up in full swing during the monsoon.
Highways in the slow lane
Many road links from Delhi to destinations in nearby states are being expanded to manage the increasing vehicular traffic. But delayed deadlines and consequent hurdles are only adding to the burden of motorists.
1 national highway-1
Delhi to amritsar
Route: Delhi-Ambala-Panipat -Jalandhar-Amritsar-Wagah
Total length: 456 km
Problem area: 291-km stretch between Panipat and Jalandhar being expanded from four to six-lane.
Status: The expansion work was awarded to a private developer, Soma Isolux, in 2008. Commuters have a harrowing time — caused by bumps and diversions — due to the ongoing work. With few signboards in sight, it becomes dangerous to drive on some of the stretches. NHAI has asked the developer to show cause.
Scheduled date of completion: Nov 2011
Estimated cost: R4,500 crore
Travel time: Over six hours to reach Chandigarh from Delhi now, compared to the ideal time period of four hours.
HT rating: Ugly
2 national highway-8
Delhi to Jaipur
Total length: 1,375 km
Problem area: The 225-km stretch between Delhi and Jaipur is being expanded from four to six lanes.
Status: NHAI awarded the expansion work to Pink City Expressway Pvt Ltd in 2008. The work is progressing at a snail’s pace due to a cash crunch, resulting in a lot of hardship for motorists. As many as 40 diversions on the stretch have resulted in extreme congestion.
Scheduled date of completion: Deadline pushed from Oct 2011 to June 2013.
Estimated cost: R1,900 cr
Travel time: Over six hours to reach Jaipur, against the ideal time of four hours.
HT rating: Ugly
3 national highway-24
Connects Delhi with Ghaziabad/Noida
Route: Delhi-Ghaziabad- Bareilly-Lucknow
Total length: 438 km
Problem area: Bad in various patches, the most chaotic being the 20-km stretch from Delhi border to Ghaziabad. Though the traffic has grown manifold, the stretch has not been upgraded. Other areas on the road between Bareilly and Lucknow are also in need of maintenance.
Estimated cost (of proposed elevated road): R4,500 crore Status: Noida Authority has proposed an elevated road of R4,650 crore to decongest NH-24. It will be built on a 31-km stretch from UP Gate to Dasna, Ghaziabad.
HT rating: Bad
4 national highway-2
Links Delhi with Mathura and Agra
Route: Delhi-Mathura-Agra-Kanpur-Allahabad-Varanasi-Mohania-Barhi-Palsit-Bara- Kolkata
Total length: 1,465 km
Problem area: Stretches of the highway between Delhi, Mathura and Agra are potholed and need of urgent repair. Witnesses heavy traffic, resulting in congestion.
Status: No upgradation work at present.
HT rating: Certain stretches are bad.
5 national highway-10
Connects Delhi to Bahadurgarh and Rohtak in Haryana
Route: Delhi-Bahadurgarh-Fazilka-Dabwal (towards Rajasthan)
Total length: 403 km
Problem area: A 100-km stretch between Bahadurgarh and Rohtak was heavily congested.
Status: The 100-kilometre stretch was to be turned
into a four-lane highway. Work on the stretch is held up only on 0.9 km, due to litigation issues.
Scheduled date of completion: Depends on the litigation.
Estimated cost: R400 crore
HT rating: Good