Guwahati, Oct. 11: The National Transport Development Policy Committee has suggested the Centre to set up a new organisational structure for road construction in the Northeast, which can be called the North Eastern Region Road Development Authority.
The move was suggested in the final report submitted by the working group on improvement and development of transport infrastructure in the Northeast to the Planning Commission recently.
The report admitted that bringing in quality standards and timely implementation of roads cannot wait for improving capacities of public works department and other agencies and hence, the process of building from the stage of conceptualisation to preparation of detailed project reports and maintenance needed an overhaul.
“We are recommending a new institutional structure for the roads sector for the Northeast that would provide technical support and guidance to the state governments of the region without impinging on their authority, while at the same time supporting them technically. This organisation can be christened NER Road Development Authority,” the report said.
The report said the two models that appear appropriate for road construction are — the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana and Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions in the European Union.
The implementation model of the Gram Sadak Yojana was working well to create good quality roads in interior areas. The report said another body to assist the state governments in the roads sector (apart from those under the Yojana roads) covering state highways, inter-state roads and others with technical and managerial inputs should be set up on the same lines.
The advantage of the Gram Sadak Yojana model is clear demarcation of roads of the Centre and state combined with strict standards of project report preparation, bid documents and bidding transparency.
The report said the model of the European Union organisation can be used for technical assistance on road construction to the Northeast states. It will work in close cooperation with the states to produce accomplished project proposals, which would meet parameters required for funding by different sources.
Manned by technical experts, it will provide assistance for any stage of the project cycle from the early stages of conception through to implementation and maintenance.
“This organisation may be put under the administrative control of the DoNER ministry. This model, combined with a Geographical Information System database has the potential of vastly improving the way roads are conceptualised, designed, plans prepared, bid evaluated and awarded and maintained,” the report said.
The report has called for creation of a centralised database of road assets that are accessible to the public based on GIS or any other suitable technology, which will prevent duplication of proposals for upgrade/maintenance of same roads to different agencies, create transparency and help in proper monitoring.
The report said the cost of poor maintenance is borne by the user and the people, which is reflected in the high rates of accidents and the low user life of vehicles in the region.
The report admitted that road improvement acquires immense importance as the growth in the number of commercial vehicles in the Northeast has been 50 per cent higher than other parts of the country.
The increase has occurred despite the current slowdown and poor conditions of roads, because of which buses and trucks are rendered unusable after four years whereas in other parts, heavy vehicles and trucks can be used for at least 10 years.