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Plan Perspective

The Ninth Plan (1997- 2002) envisaged a comprehensive package to address various transport sector issues. It emphasized the need for improving the capacity and quality of the transportation system through technological upgradation. It also laid stress on improvement of the self- financing capacity of this sector and on the need for ensuring an improved transport system to provide speedy, efficient, safe and economical carriage of goods and people. The Planning Commission has felt that achievement of objectives and targets for road sector have been encouraging during the plan period.

The Tenth Plan Document (2002- 2007) reiterates the need for expeditious development of the Primary system [National Highways (NH) and Expressways], Secondary system [State Highways (SH) and Major District Roads (MDR)] and Rural Roads. The expeditious completion of the Golden Quadrilateral as also the North- South and East- West corridors is therefore essential. The encouragement of private sector participation in the Highway Sector, levy of tolls on NH network, Phased removal of deficiencies in the existing NH network, provision of wayside amenities along highways, popularization of use of containers and multi- axle vehicles in the carriage of goods for reducing transportation cost and road safety are some of the other major thrust areas. With the year 2004 being declared as the year of Road Safety, there is a concomitant requirement to tackle road safety related issues on priority.

The details of targets and achievements during the Ninth and the Tenth Five Year Plan are:

        Tenth Plan
Sl No. Activity Targets/ Achievements Ninth Plan (1997- 2002) Annual Plan (2002- 03) Annual Plan (2003- 04) Annual Plan (2004- 05)

1

Widening to 2- Lanes (km)

Targets

1791

829

701

832

   

Achievements

1955

710

671

221*

2

Widening to 4- Lanes (km)

Targets

944

582

2245

2945

   

Achievements

797

418

799

841*

3

Strengthening Weak 2 Lanes (km)

Targets

3042

1260

3016

3535

   

Achievements

3511

1109

1489

1087*

4

By- Passes (Nos.)

Targets

59

21

20

12

    Achievements

30

12

6

3*

5

Construction of Bridges/ ROBs/ RUBs including rehabilitation of Bridges (Nos.)

Targets

633

175

182

232

 

 

Achievements

442

143

123

30*


* Annual Plan 2004- 05- Achievements up to October, 2004

Outlay for the Tenth Plan

The outlay for Central Sector roads for the Tenth Plan is Rs 59,490 crore. This includes Rs 34,790 crore of budgetary support and Rs 24,700 crore of internal and extra budgetary resources (IEBR).

Transport and Budgetary Allocation

Transport planning has to give priority to creating a policy framework, which ensures an adequate flow of resources to this sector. Within the budgetary constraints, transport infrastructure development needs to be treated as a high priority area for continued resource allocation. Despite these efforts, the total resource requirement greatly exceeds the capacity of the budget to meet the cost of maintenance and expansion. Broad estimates of investment requirement till the year 2010 indicate that it will be necessary to increase annual investment levels to three to four times the present level in real terms. The financing of investment on this scale is a massive task. Increasing participation of the private sector would also be necessary to augment the resource base and increase competitive efficiency.

In order to augment availability of resources for the sector, the budgetary resources could be used to leverage private investment. Internal generation of resources through rational pricing and user charges is, therefore, essential for the successful development of transport infrastructure.

Neglect of Maintenance

The existing road network is showing signs of serious distress because of neglect of maintenance, which is highly uneconomic from the national point of view. Out of the total length of 65,569 km of NHs, about 25,000 km is under severe strain due to high volume of traffic. One of the main factors responsible for this is the upgradation of large segments of State Highways to National Highways during the Ninth Plan. Total estimated cost of removing deficiencies on National Highways is about Rs 165,000 crore. The present allocation for maintenance of National Highways is only 40% of the requirements based on the norms for maintenance. The situation in respect of State roads is still worse. Due to resource constraints private sector also needs to be involved in maintenance of National Highways.

National Highway Development Project (NHDP)

A massive programme for 4/ 6 laning of about 14,279 km length of existing National Highways falling under NHDP Phase- I and Phase- II has been taken up at a cost of Rs 64,639 crores. This aims at 4/ 6 laning of existing 2- lane National Highways comprising Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) linking Delhi- Mumbai- Chennai- Kolkata and North- South, East- West Corridors connecting Srinagar to Kanyakumari and Silchar to Porbundar. The total length of GQ (after alignment finalisation) is 5,846 kms. The GQ is expected to be substantially completed by December, 2005 and the entire NHDP Phase- I and Phase- II by December, 2007.

Environment & Road Infrastructure

In the Road Transport Sector, energy planning has a special significance, because transport is the second largest consumer of energy. The growth of transport not only leads to pressure on limited availability of non- renewable energy but also gives rise to broader environmental issues. As the demand for transport services rises, it leads to increased use of scarce land and contributes to the atmospheric pollution in a big way. Sound pollution, road congestion, etc are other environmental hazards due to transport. It is, therefore, necessary that environmental concerns should be built into road infrastructure project planning right from the beginning – at the stage of site selection, alignment finalisation, etc. The Government of India is alive to these concerns and has mandated that all road infrastructure projects require environmental clearance before they are taken up.

Data Base

It is well recognized that an adequate database comprising of information on number of vehicles and freight moved will provide suitable inputs to policies concerning the sector, which is collected and estimated in the Ministry. The Planning Commission had in the past instituted studies on traffic flows and costs of different modes including road transport, with a view to evolve comprehensive transport policy concerning all modes. There would be need for initiation of such studies by the Planning Commission, as it would be useful to railways and road transport. The Rangarajan Committee had also suggested that such information on origin- destination pattern of movement could be carried by the NSSO of Ministry of Planning. Pending initiation of such studies, the DoRT&H collects need based information to help in evolving policies for the sector. Such efforts would be further strengthened.

Development of Backward Areas

The need for adequate and efficient transport system for promoting economic development is well known. While considering the creation of new transport facility in backward regions however, it must be borne in mind that transport is only one of the essential elements for development of the region and it is not necessary that highly capital- intensive transport projects will by themselves bring about economic development. There has also been persistent demand for subsidising transport operations in backward and remote areas on the plea that the traffic and the low level of income would not generate the kind of demand which could bear the cost of providing transport services. While the responsibility of ensuring efficient operation of transport services in these regions is that of the State, it does not necessarily mean that the state should be direct provider of these services. Whether it relates to providing transport services in the backward area or in isolated and hilly region, the State could involve private operators and award routes on the basis of least subsidy, so that benefits are targeted and costs become apparent.

Employment Generation

Road construction activity is inherently employment generating. State Governments may explore the possibility of forming Cooperative Societies of unemployed youths (skilled/ unskilled), who could be given some basic training and thereafter the Societies could take up assignments for maintenance, tree plantation, protection of assets activities through competitive bidding process. States like Kerala and Maharashtra are reported to have such Societies.

Induction of New Technology

There is an urgent need for the introduction of the new technology in the designs, engineering and construction methods as also carrying out surveys through remote sensing techniques particularly in the upgradation of the roads which are covered by the HDC. Use of machines to improve both the quality and speed of construction needs to be pursued more vigorously. The possibility of creating equipment leasing companies need to be encouraged. The concept of awarding road projects with huge costs as turnkey Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) contracts helps to reduce construction time and improves quality. These steps would help in reducing the abnormally high time taken for construction of roads by at least 50%. Several new materials of road construction are also emerging such as polymer modified bitumen, geosynthetics etc that would need to be encouraged depending upon the cost effectiveness.


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