Patna, Sept. 13: The state government has opposed the Centre’s proposal of developing all national highways under public-private-partnership (PPP) mode. Bihar put forth its views in a meeting which was followed by a national conference on “PPP in national highways” at Delhi yesterday.
“Most of the speakers in the conference underlined the need of PPP mode citing paucity of funds as a reason for constructing roads. We are not opposed to the idea but there are many regions where private investors would not come to invest because of low traffic pressure. The Centre should provide funds for development of roads in such regions,” Bihar road construction minister Nand Kishore Yadav, who took part in the conference, told The Telegraph today.
The prominent speakers in the conference were Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Union minister of road transport and highways C.P. Joshi and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia.
Yadav said the state put forth its views in a meeting, held after the conference, in which officials of the road transport and highways ministry and those of the road construction departments of the participating states took part.
Citing reasons for the state’s stand, the road construction department minister said there were many regions in Bihar where private investment in road sector was not viable and the people could not be denied access to good quality roads on this very ground.
His stand appears to be logical as recently the road construction department secretary Pratyay Amrit had written a letter to the ministry of road transport and highways secretary, stating that it was not possible to develop four highways — Chhapra-Rewaghat-Muzaffarpur (NH-102), Biharsharif-Barbigha-Mokama (NH-82), Ekangarsarai-Jehanabad-Arwal (NH-110) and Maheshkhut-Saharsa-Purnea (NH-107) — under the PPP mode. The letter cited quantum of traffic on these highways as reason for taking such a stand.
The letter had made a formal request that these roads should be developed in engineering procurement construction (EPC) mode. Under this mode, the fund for constructing national highways is provided by the Centre as highways are the property of the Union government and the state government concerned just plays the role of an agency to facilitate road construction or maintenance.
The Centre had asked the state government to explore the possibility of constructing these roads through private participation and realising the investment through toll. A survey was conducted on the basis of which the reply was sent.
The road construction minister said the aforesaid stretches were not the only ones which need to be developed in the EPC mode, there were many other stretches, like Chhapra-Baniyapur-Mohammadpur (NH-101) and Hajipur-Jandaha-Mushrigharari (NH-103), which needed to be developed under the EPC mode.
He, however, made it clear that the state government was not averse to PPP mode and had played a proactive role in attracting private investments for developing the stretches, which could attract private investment.
Work on Bakhtiyarpur-Tajpur bridge across river Ganga and Ara-Mohania national highway is being done under PPP mode and tenders for the Bakhtiyarpur-Rajauli stretch of NH-31 and proposed Ganga driveway, which are to be constructed in PPP mode, would be floated soon.