Govt approves additional Rs 1,691 cr for highway works in J&K, Uttarakhand

Source: Business Standard, Jun 28, 2020

New Delhi: The government has approved an additional Rs 1,691 crore for highway works by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand for 2020-21.

Of this, Rs 1,351.10 crore has been sanctioned to BRO for road works in Jammu & Kashmir, the road transport and highways ministry said in a communication to Border Roads Development Board (BRDB) Director General Lt Gen Harpal Singh.

A total of Rs 340 crore ceiling has been approved for Uttarakhand for national highways, according to the communication dated June 24.

In addition, it has also given nod for additional sanction of Rs 71 crore for highway works by the state’s Public Works Department in Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu,

Besides, it has also enhanced the total ceiling to Rs 1,955 crore for highways work for Nagaland under Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) from the existing Rs 1,081 crore.

“Competent authority has approved the additional sanction ceiling for NH(O) works for the year 2020-21 to states /UTs of Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu for state PWDs and for state/ UT of Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand for BRO,” the communication said.

It said that the existing sanction for national highways (original) work for state PWDs was Rs 2,269 crore, which has been raised to Rs 2,340 crore. In addition, Rs 1,691 crore ceiling was approved for BRO, taking the additional ceiling of Rs 4,081 crore for national highways in these areas.

“For NH(O)-General projects for state govt/UTs, 20 per cent of the sanction ceiling has been proposed for cross drainage works. Sanction of damaged cross drainage work may be given topmost priority,” the communication said.

Widening of national highways (NHs) and their strengthening under the annual plan 2020-21 may be suitably finalised by project zones in consultation with additional DG/ DG (road development) and special secretary, it said.

“Efforts may be made to award all the sanctioned works under spillover/ balance sanction ceiling and additional sanction ceiling already given and at least 50 per cent of sanctioned works under instant additional sanction ceiling,” it added.

Earlier, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) enhanced the remuneration of its personnel working in tough terrains.

NHIDCL, a fully-owned company of the Government of India, under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, is engaged in building, maintaining and upgrading national highways and strategic roads, including interconnecting roads in parts of the country which share international boundaries with neighbouring countries. The roads are built in difficult terrain under inhospitable and hostile weather conditions and other environmental factors.

Govt to expedite work on 32 road projects along border with China

Source: Business Standard, Jun 23, 2020

New Delhi: Amidst the continuing standoff between the Indian Army and China’s PLA, the Centre on Monday reviewed ongoing road projects along the Sino-Indian border, and decided to expedite work on 32 of them, officials said.

The decision was taken at a high-level meeting convened by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), and attended by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) among others.

Works will be expedited on 32 road projects along the border with China and all concerned agencies will extend cooperation to fast-track the projects, an official privy to the meeting told PTI.

A total of 73 roads are being constructed along the Sino-Indian border. Of these, the CPWD is working on 12 and the BRO on 61, under the direct supervision of the MHA, which is the nodal authority for all border infrastructure-related projects.

The move comes amidst the ongoing row between the Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Ladakh sector.

Twenty Indian Army personnel were killed in a clash with the PLA in the night of June 15-16 in the Galwan Valley in Ladakh.

At least three vital roads are being constructed by the BRO in Ladakh, another official said.

Apart from the roads, priority will also be given to projects related to development of other border infrastructure like power, health, telecom and education.
 According to the MHA officials, there has been a surge in works related to roads along the Sino-Indian order in recent years.

The formation-cutting works were completed for 470 km roads along the border in 2017-20, in comparison to just 230 km in 2008-17, the officials said.

Surface-clearing has been done for 380 km of roads in 2017-20, in comparison to just 170 km in 2008-17, they added.

Six road tunnels were constructed in 2014-20 in comparison to just one in 2008-14. Besides, additional 19 road tunnels are under planning stage, they said, adding a total of 14,450 metres of border road bridges were completed in 2014-20 in comparison to 7,270 metres in 2008-18.

A total of 4,764 kms of roads were constructed in 2014-20 in comparison to 3,610 kms in 2008-14.

Similarly, the budget for the road projects has also been increased in recent years.

Budget for road projects per year between 2008 and 2016 was in the range of Rs 3,300 crore to Rs 4,600 crore.

In 2017-18, Rs 5450 crore were earmarked for road projects for the border areas, Rs 6,700 crore in 2018-19, Rs 8,050 crore in 2019-20, Rs 11,800 crore in 2020-21.

Govt infuses Rs 5,298 cr into IIFCL to boost infrastructure spending

Source: Business Standard, Jun 10, 2020

New Delhi: India Infrastructure Finance Company (IIFCL) on Wednesday said the government infused equity share capital of Rs 5,297.60 crore in the company on March 30.

This infusion has increased the paid-up equity share capital of IIFCL to Rs 9,999.92 crore against the authorized share capital of Rs 10,000 crore.

“The increased paid-up equity share capital enables IIFCL to create requisite headroom to provide finance to more number of infrastructure projects in the country,” it said.
 

IIFCL will now have increased exposure limits for individual projects and developer groups. It would be able to comfortably maintain its capital to Risk Adjusted Ratio (CRAR) as per RBI regulations and directions and approach the markets to attract more borrowings, it said.

IIFCL, wholly owned by the government, provides long-term financial support to infrastructure projects in the country through direct lending, subordinate debt, takeout finance and refinance.

Edelweiss Infra fund buys two road assets from Navayuga for $140 million

Source: LiveMint.com, Jun 07, 2020

MUMBAI: Edelweiss Infrastructure Yield Plus, an alternative investment fund managed by Edelweiss Alternative Asset Advisors Ltd. (EAAA), along with its portfolio company Sekura Roads Ltd, has acquired two annuity road assets from the Navyuga group. The deal size is at $140 million on an enterprise valuation basis.

The two road assets are Navayuga Dhola Infra Projects Limited (in Assam) and Navayuga Dibang Infra Projects Private Limited (in Arunachal Pradesh). These assets have been acquired from Navayuga Road Projects Private Ltd, a subsidiary of Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd. Sekura Roads is the road and highway infrastructure platform of the fund, focused on acquiring operating road assets and this is its first acquisition.

Last year, Subhash Chandra-led Essel group sold two transmission assets owned by Essel Infraprojects, Darbhanga-Motihari Transmission Ltd and NRSS XXXI (B) Transmission Ltd, to Sekura Energy, operated by the same fund.

EAAA has assets under management of over ₹28,000 crore. “We are happy to see the acquisition of these high-quality road assets to the Sekura Roads portfolio. This is in line with our strategy of investing in Infrastructure assets which can deliver predictable long-term yield to our investors. We now have a healthy portfolio of operating transmission and operating annuity road assets,” said Subahoo Chordia, Head of Edelweiss Infrastructure Yield Plus, in a press statement.

Sachin Bhansali, CFO, Navayuga group said the transaction will help the company de-leverage its balance sheet by freeing up cash. The Dhola and Dibang roads are of strategic importance because they ensure seamless all-weather connectivity between North East and the rest of India. The Dhola bridge is the country’s longest river bridge, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018, has opened an economic corridor to the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.

Pune-Nashik rail line project gets nod; link to boost movement of goods

Source: Business Standard, Jun 04, 2020

The much-awaited Pune-Nashik rail line project has received approval from the Railway ministry, paving the way for connecting the two key industrial cities of Maharashtra that will give boost to fast movement of goods and people, state-run firm MRIDC said on Thursday.

Maharashtra Rail Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (MRIDC) said it has received approval from the Railways for implementing the ‘greenfield semi-high-speed broad gauge double’ line between the two cities, located around 200km apart, a project that will cost Rs 16,039 crore.

MRIDC (also known as MahaRail) will be implementing the project, which had been pending approval for long.

“This semi-high-speed double line will provide direct connectivity between Pune and Nashik and the journey between the two cities will be completed in less than two hours.

“MRIDC has planned and designed to run the Pune-Nashik broad gauge rail line with the commercial speed of 200km/hr with future increment up to 250 km/hr,” the corporation said in a release.

Rajesh Kumar Jaiswal, Managing Director, MahaRail, said this project will not only attract goods trains but also high-speed passenger trains. (Once completed) The travel time from Pune to Nashik will be completed in 1 hour and 45 minutes.”

MahaRail has also planned to develop private freight terminal (PFT), dry port, multimodal and commercial hub, warehouses and sidings at locations suggested by local industries, he said.

As the Pune-Nashik belt has a large number of industries, the project will open a new source of revenue for them by fast-track movements of cargo as important MIDC areas such as Chakan, Sinnar and Satpur will be directly connected by this rail line, the release said.

The Railway line will pass through three districts of Maharashtra – Pune, Ahmednagar and Nashik – providing seamless connectivity to industrial zones of Pune and Nashik such as Alandi, Chakan, Khed, Manchar, Narayangaon, Sinnar and Satpur, said the release.

The entire cost of the project has been pegged at Rs 16,039 crore. MRIDC shall invite equity partners to participate in the project, it said.

“Once necessary approvals aregranted from Government of Maharashtra, the project is estimated to be completed in 1,200 days from the date of financial closure,” the release said.

It said the rail line will augment revenues from multi -fold industries like automobile, machineries, electronics, pharmaceuticals, sugar mills and other agricultural activities around the project influence regions. Passengers of varied travel purposes such as tourism, educations, agricultural and as well as business and daily shuttles will have ample facilities to connect with the rest of the country, the release added.

NHAI to develop 57 stretches as model national highways

Source: The Economic Times, May 31, 2020

NEW DELHI: Plans are afoot to develop 57 highway stretches near each state capital to serve as model national highways, an NHAI official said.

These stretches total to 1,735 kms across the country.

“In order to exhibit the model stretches of national highways as per norms, NHAI plans to develop 57 stretches of NH (1,735 kms) across the length and breadth of the country near each state capital,” the national highways authority of India (NHAI) official said.

These model stretches will also serve as a platform to instruct the highway engineers of the country, including state PWD engineers.

“These model stretches will have all the required safety and aesthetic features like road signs, road markings, road furniture and safety items, proper junctions and entry/ exit,” the official added.

Other features include functional drains, pedestrian facilities, street lighting, plantation and landscaping, elegant toll plazas, user facilities and wayside amenities, CCTV cameras at all vulnerable locations, no black spots to avoid accidents and ecofriendly measures.

With all these features, the stretch will look like a perfect textbook version of a model road.

Some of the NH sections identified for development as model stretches are Dausa to Jaipur; Jalandhar to Amritsar; Srinagar to Banihal; Varanasi Ring Road; Chennai Bypass, Madhya Pradesh-Maharashtra border to Nagpur including Nagpur Bypass; and Brahmputra Bridge to Guwahati.

NHAI has issued policy guidelines to help its regional officers (ROs)/ project directors (PDs) identify and plan the development of model stretches and complete the activity in a timely manner.

Sufficient financial powers have been delegated to take quick decision in the matter, the official said.

NHAI HQ will be monitoring the progress closely through online e-portal (Data Lake), where pictures/ videos of each model stretch would be uploaded apart from other related information.

Projects worth Rs 21.11 lakh cr at a standstill in red zone districts: Report

Source: The Economic Times, May 29, 2020

Mumbai: While the government has relaxed lockdown norms, as many as 8,917 projects worth over Rs 21.11 lakh crore across various sectors under execution in 108 red zone districts are at a standstill even now, a survey said.

When the government announced lockdown 4.0, it allowed relaxations in certain activities in the green, orange and red zones, while restricting activities in the containment zones. The zones have been classified based on COVID-19 cases.

According to the study by projects monitoring organisation Projects Today, around 8,917 projects worth Rs 21.11 lakh crore are stuck in the 108 red zone districts, which account for 37.4 per cent of the total projects under execution across the country.

The study noted that when Prime Minister Narendra Modi first announced the lockdown on March 25, there were 17,372 projects entailing a total investment of Rs 56.51 lakh crore in various stages of implementation.

“Following the gradual withdrawal of the lockdown, some of the government projects might have restarted. A country, which has already seen one year of economic downturn, cannot afford to keep the ongoing projects under lockdown for a long time,” it said.

Of these 8,917 projects, as many as 7,998, entailing an investment of over Rs 16.26 lakh crore, are in the infrastructure sector. These include 1,292 road projects, 166 railway projects, 203 hospital projects, 3,971 real estate projects, 630 under-construction commercial complexes and 178 industrial parks, among others. The remaining over 900 projects pertain to sectors like manufacturing, irrigation, power and mining.

According to Projects Today, out of the 8,917 projects, 62.9 per cent are owned by government agencies. While the Central government agencies are executing 1,036 projects worth Rs 4.42 lakh crore, various departments of the state governments are executing 2,609 projects worth Rs 8.86 lakh crore.

“The private sector alone was executing 5,272 projects with a total outlay of more than Rs 7.83 lakh crore. Since it will take a while for the private sector to take up the halted projects, government agencies would have to take initiatives to kickstart their halted projects on a war footing basis,” it noted.

The survey also found out that of the 19 states and three union territories where all the 130 red zone districts are located, Maharashtra tops the list in terms of halted projects.

Maharashtra has 2,970 projects with total investment of Rs 5.96 lakh crore under execution in 14 coronavirus hotspot districts, followed by Gujarat (769), Uttar Pradesh (695), Andhra Pradesh (390) and Delhi (198).

“The urgency of revival in projects investment in these states can be gauged by the fact that the top five states together account for 41.3 percent of India’s manufacturing output, 37.1 percent of services output and around 40 percent of the GDP,” it said.

The COVID-19 fear has also led to mass migration of labourers to their hometowns.

“Therefore, apart from putting together the required number of labourers to restart the work post lockdown, finding replacements for the migrated labourer (of same skills) will be an uphill task,” it noted.

India to go ahead with infra development in key areas along LAC notwithstanding stiff resistance by China

Source: The Economic Times, May 27, 2020

NEW DELHI: India will not stop infrastructure development projects in strategic areas along the nearly 3,500-km Sino-India border, notwithstanding China’s well-coordinated efforts to stall them by attempting to vitiate the situation in areas like eastern Ladakh, government sources said on Tuesday.

It is learnt that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has conveyed to top military brass that there was no need for reviewing the implementation of any of the key projects along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, Sikkim, Uttarakhand or in Arunachal Pradesh in view of the aggressive behaviour by Chinese troops in several sensitive areas.

In view of the nearly 20-day standoff between the two sides, the Indian Army has significantly ramped up its presence in sensitive border areas in North Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh besides Ladakh to send across a message that India will not be wilting under any aggressive military posturing by China, the sources said.

They said Army Chief Gen MM Naravane has been briefing the defence minister about the fast evolving situation in eastern Ladakh on almost daily basis and it has been decided to put up a stiff counter to China’s transgressions into Indian areas along the LAC, the de-facto boundary between the two countries.

The Chinese side has been particularly peeved at India laying a key road in the finger area of Pangong Tso Lake region besides another road connecting the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.

Singh on Tuesday held a meeting with three service chiefs on the implementation of a wide range of reform measures in the armed forces. It is not immediately clear whether the situation in eastern Ladakh figured in the deliberations.


In the last five years, India has been focusing on improving road and other key infrastructure along the LAC as part of efforts to bolster military preparedness to deal with any challenge from the Chinese side.

The situation in eastern Ladakh deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on the evening of May 5 which spilled over to the next day before the two sides agreed to “disengage” following a meeting at the level of local commanders.

Over 100 Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured in the violence. The trigger for the incident was China’s strong objection to the road being laid by India in the Finger area in Pangong Tso lake.

The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in North Sikkim on May 9

Since then, Chinese military has increased its strength in Pangong Tso lake, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldi, and is resorting to “aggressive patrolling” in these areas. The India Army is also carrying out similar exercise in the region, sources said.

India last week said the Chinese military was hindering normal patrolling by its troops and asserted that India has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management.

At a media briefing, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava also strongly refuted China’s contention that the tension was triggered due to trespassing by Indian forces on the Chinese side.

India’s response came two days after China accused the Indian Army of trespassing into its territory, claiming that it was an “attempt to unilaterally change the status” of the LAC in Sikkim and Ladakh.

On May 5, the Indian and Chinese army personnel clashed with iron rods, sticks, and even resorted to stone-pelting in the Pangong Tso lake area in which soldiers on both sides sustained injuries.

In a separate incident, nearly 150 Indian and Chinese military personnel were engaged in a face-off near Naku La Pass in the Sikkim sector on May 9. At least 10 soldiers from both sides sustained injuries.

The troops of India and China were engaged in a 73-day stand-off in Doklam tri-junction in 2017 which even triggered fears of a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.

The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LAC. China claims Arunachal Pradesh part of southern Tibet while India contests it.

Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first informal summit in April 2018 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, months after the Doklam standoff.

In the summit, the two leaders decided to issue “strategic guidance” to their militaries to strengthen communications so that they can build trust and understanding.

Modi and Xi held their second informal summit in Mamallapuram near Chennai in October last year with a focus on further broadening bilateral ties.

UP govt set to launch Ganga Expressway project, to cost Rs 30,000 crore

Source: Business Standard, May 24, 2020

Lucknow: Even as three expressway projects totalling over Rs 42,500 crore are under different stages of construction, the Uttar Pradesh government has decided to launch another mega project – Ganga Expressway.

Nodal agency, UP Expressway Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) has estimated the civil work and land cost of the 628 km project at nearly Rs 21,000 crore and Rs 9,000 crore respectively, thus totalling Rs 30,000 crore.

The other three projects already underway are 340 km Purvanchal Expressway, 296 km Bundelkhand Expressway and 91 km Gorakhpur Link Expressway, which are estimated to cost Rs 23,000 crore, Rs 15,000 crore and Rs 4,600 crore respectively.

Chairing a review meeting here yesterday, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath directed official to top gear the proposed 16 lane Ganga Expressway project, which will link 12 districts between Prayagraj (Allahabad) and Meerut.

According to UP additional chief secretary Awanish Kumar Awasthi, the project will be divided into 12 separate packages for simultaneous development by concessionaires, who would be selected through a competitive bidding process like other ongoing projects.

With 2022 UP elections less than two years away, the Adityanath government is expediting all the expressway projects, since they are the most visible specimen of development in the hinterland, and spur local economy along their course.

In the backdrop of the large influx of migrants from other states, the state is expecting these mega projects to create local level jobs.

Before the lockdown was announced, chief secretary R K Tiwari had asked UPEIDA to prepare the detailed project report (DPR) for Ganga Expressway by March 20, so that it could be placed before the state cabinet for approval. However, the subsequent lockdown delayed the process by nearly two months.


Ganga Expressway will entail acquisition of about 6,556 hectares of land and traverse Meerut, Amroha, Bulandshahar, Badaun, Shahjahanpur, Farrukhabad, Hardoi, Kannauj, Unnao, Rae Bareli, Pratagarh and Prayagraj districts.

Meanwhile, Awasthi said the work was going on in full swing in all other expressway projects and large number of labourers had been deployed to make-up for the loss of civil works during the lockdown period.

“While 45 per cent of the work in Purvanchal Expressway has been completed, we expect to complete almost 50 per cent of the total work by the month end,” he added.

Similarly, the government is targetting to complete 5 per cent of the works in Bundelkhand Expressway, whose foundation was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on February 29.

It will connect Bundelkhand with the national capital region (NCR) via Agra-Lucknow and Yamuna expressways. The project would start near Bharatkoop at Jhansi-Allahabad National Highway (NH) 35 in Chitrakoot district and terminate near village Kudrail, Etawah on Agra-Lucknow Expressway.

The Gorakhpur Link Expressway will cut through Gorakhpur, Sant Kabir Nagar, Ambedkar Nagar and Azamgarh districts.

Govt accepts Shekatkar recommendations to boost border roads projects

Source: Business Standard, May 19, 2020

In a major boost to building strategic roads along India’s northern border with China, the government on Monday accepted and implemented three important recommendations relating to border infrastructure, made by the Shekatkar Committee in 2016.

The recommendations accepted were aimed at speeding up road construction in remote areas, providing easier access to the military and leading to socio economic development in the border areas.

First, the government has implemented the Shekatkar Committee recommendation “to outsource road construction work beyond optimal capacity of Border Roads Organisation (BRO).”

This is aimed at bringing in private sector road construction agencies and taking the load off a heavily overstretched BRO, which is struggling to maintain the existing network of borders roads and highways; while also building new roads to areas that have remained outside the road network since independence.

To ensure oversight, the government has made it mandatory to adhere to the Engineering Procurement Contract (EPC) for executing all projects that cost more than Rs 100 crore.

Second, the government has accepted a Shekatkar Committee recommendation that makes it easier to introduce modern construction plant, equipment and machinery. For this, the BRO’s “enhanced procurement powers” for domestic and foreign procurements from have been increased from Rs 7.5 crore to Rs 100 crore.

This is deemed essential, with the BRO engaged in sophisticated road and tunnel construction projects, such as the Atal Behari Vajpayee Tunnel near Manali that underpasses the Rohtang Pass; and the 80-kilometre-long road on the Amarnath Yatra route from Dharchula (Uttarakhand) to Lipulekh (China Border).

For projects like these, the “BRO has recently inducted Hot-Mix Plant 20/30 TPH for speedier laying of roads, remote operated hydraulic Rock Drills DC-400 R for hard rock cutting, a range of F-90 series of self-propelled snow-cutters/blowers for speedier snow clearance,” stated the defence ministry (MoD).

The BRO is also introducing advanced new technologies to speed up construction, such as precision blasting, use of geo-textiles for soil stabilisation, using cementitious base for pavements and plastic coated aggregates for surfacing.

“With the empowerment of field officers through enhanced delegation of financial and administrative powers, there has been significant improvement in faster financial closure of works,” said the MoD

Finally, completing land acquisition and obtaining statutory clearances such as forest and environmental clearance will now be pre-requisites for approving the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for a new road. Work can be awarded only after at least 90 per cent of the statutory clearances have been obtained. The Shekatkar Committee submitted a total of 99 recommendations. Details of the report and its recommendations have not been placed in the public domain as it “covers operational aspects of the armed forces, disclosure of which is not in the interest of national security,” the government told Parliament in February 2019.