Planning an inter-city road trip but anxious about the absence of basic facilities along the road?
Driving long distance on India’s national highways may no longer be a taxing affair with the government planning to provide amenities such as washrooms, drinking water and multi-utility shops every 25 km.
A larger complex of services — rest areas for drivers, washrooms, bathing areas, restaurants, big multi-utility shops and adequate parking facilities — will be built every 50 kilometres.
The road transport ministry has unveiled a draft policy to standardise highway wayside amenities that are scarce and unevenly distributed, unlike other countries that have a uniform standard of facilities.
“In some highway stretches you have good restaurants and washrooms but in many stretches you have skeletal facilities. In some others, especially remote areas, wayside amenities are non-existent. So we decided to come out with a policy that has set uniform standard,” said an official.
The highways ministry will invite private players to build,operate and maintain the facilities for a fixed number of years. “We are exploring various modes of developing such facilities and augmenting the existing facilities,” another ministry official added.
On Friday while launching the Rs 30,000 crore Sethu Bharatam programme that envisages building new bridges and overhauling old ones, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also spoke about the emphasis on providing quality wayside amenities to highway commuters.
“We will soon hold a meeting with all stakeholders including private developers to get their views on the draft policy,” said a ministry official.
The ministry is exploring various modes of developing these services. These include development, operations and maintenance on a public-private partnership mode, where private developers would be given land to build and run such a facility for 15-20 year concession period.
For highway stretches that are not financially viable, the ministry is ready to try out the EPC(Engineering Procurement contract) mode where the government provides 100% funding for building the wayside amenities.
The ministry is also looking at incentivising petrol or diesel retail outlet owners on national highways for upgrading the quality of basic toilet-cum-drinking water facilities being provided.