Highways are big ways now

Highways are big ways now

Amidst several constraints including funding as well as land acquisition issues, the NDA government has been able to push the construction of highways for the past one year by removing several bottlenecks, but challenges remain on bringing down increasing road accidents as the Road Transport and Safety Bill is still stuck in Parliament.

The construction of highways has reached to 18 km per day now against the 8 km per day in previous UPA regime and the government is working towards the meeting its target of building 30 km per day by March 2016. As per the road ministry, around 2,900 km length of highways were constructed during April-September this year against 1,800 km in same period last year.

The NDA government set the target of building 6,300 km road in the current financial year and plans to construct 10,000 km in the same period. Of the 77 stuck projects worth Rs 3.8 lakh crore on account of land and environmental disputes, except 19 projects, remaining have resumed its works. The talks with developers and other stake holders for remaining 19 projects are on, says the officials of the Ministry.

Aiming to transform India’s 96,000-km network of National Highways (NHs) into green corridors, the government has come out with a Green Highways Policy and process for its implementation started.

Besides, a trilateral pact between India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) is expected by March 2016 while Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Motor Pact has already been inked with identification of 14 routes for passenger services and 7 routes for cargo movement. “Work on the $ 8 billion road connectivity BBIN project is likely to be completed soon with ADB funding,”says Road Transport and Highway Minister Nitin Gadkari.

Once BBIN and IMT are operationalised, a seamless vehicular movement between SAARC and ASEAN nations will become a reality. The government also plans to build a sea-bridge and a tunnel connecting Sri Lanka, while ADB is ready to fully-finance the Rs 24,000-crore project connecting Rameshwaram to Sri Lanka, says the minister.

However the challenge remains on curbing the increasing road accidents. India sees five lakh road accidents annually in which 1.5 lakh people lose their lives, and the ambitious Road Transport and Safety Bill is stuck in Parliament.

The bill, which seeks to clamp down heavily on traffic offenders, proposes a steep penalty of up to Rs 3 lakh, along with a minimum 7-year imprisonment for death of a child, besides huge fines for other driving violation. It is also opposed by several states for various reasons. Bringing strict road safety law, which aims to bring down fatalities in road accidents by two lakh in the first five years, is a daunting task for Gadkari in coming days.

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