The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been spearheading the Central government’s campaign to modernise the country’s highways and enhance trade and commerce and has initiated several domestic mega infrastructure projects with success. A few of these are -Electronic Toll Collection, Incident Management System, and Wayside Amenities. In early 2018, it kicked off a cluster project – Bharatmala Pariyojna – to subsume all these mega-projects and construct National Highways and economic corridors of more than 50,000 km to bridge rural and urban India.
Besides developing the country’s inland economy and attempting to bring prominence to its remote economic zones, the National Highways Authority of India also is helping the nation expand its footprint outwards with its ongoing India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway (IMTTH). The Trilateral Highway is being constructed as part of India’s Look East policy to bolster trade and commerce besides business, health, education, and tourism between the three economies
The 1,360-km-plus India-Myanmar-Thailand highway will facilitate trade between India, ASEAN member-nations, and the rest of South-East Asia. The intracontinental highway starts from Moreh in Manipur (India), traverses through Myanmar, and ends at Mae Sot in Thailand.
The project proposes the construction of 69 bridges on the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa road section (nearly 150 km) and Kalewa-Yargi road section (over 120 km) in Myanmar to establish road connectivity between India and the South-Asian economies.
As part of this initiative, India has already finished the construction of a 130-km road connecting Moreh and Tamu in India to Kalewa in Myanmar. Several stretches on the Thailand-Myanmar side of the project are already completed. The construction or upgrading of the rest of the highway awaits the finalisation of tenders and contracts, for which consultants have been already appointed and several tenders and contracts already won.
Recently, the NHAI signed a new subproject contract with a Punj Lloyd–Varaha Infra joint venture to construct new highway infrastructure along the route of the intracontinental road-connectivity project. This subproject contract is being funded by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Government of India, and costs around INR 1,177 crores or USD 180 million.
Under the agreement, India’s NHAI is taking up the construction of three new major bridges, the repair and reinforcement of four major bridges, the building of two new minor bridges, the rebuilding of six minor bridges, the repair and strengthening of nine minor bridges, the reconstruction of 226 existing culverts, and the construction of 20 advanced bus bays, passenger shelters, among others.
The India-ASEAN road-connectivity project may extend to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam in the near future, according to government authorities of India and ASEAN. The new trade route, once operational, will generate annually an estimated USD 70 billion in incremental GDP rate output and 20 million in incremental aggregate employment by 2025 for the nations involved.
The beginning of 2018 had been monumental for India as the Union government, with India Inc., flagged off its largest campaign yet to revamp the nation’s public sector and make it a global economic force. The campaign – led by the powerful public-private coalition – involves the integration of advanced technology and revised policies in the sector. And the NHAI has been instrumental in bringing this transformation to the Highways sector.
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