National Highways Authority of India (NHAI)
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Context: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has issued guidelines to help accelerate foundation stone laying ceremonies and inauguration festivities for national highway projects.
Key Points of the Guidelines
- The Authority's 20-point standard operating procedure (SoP) includes the preparation of a project brief for the PM, including a minute-by-minute programming plan and speech/talking points to be delivered by the PM and dignitaries.
- The criteria for selecting projects for the 'foundation laying ceremony,' 'inauguration,' and 'dedication to the nation' are clearly outlined in the SoP.
- A four-member team of officials to visit sites and engage with the NHAI.
- A brief containing the key components of the projects, including social and economic advantages, will be created 10 days in advance and shared with the PMO.
National Highways Authority of India (NHAI)
- It is an autonomous agency of the Government of India, responsible for the management and development of the national highways network in the country.
- It was established in 1988 under the National Highways Authority of India Act, 1988.
- It is under the administrative control of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
- It is headed by a chairman, who is assisted by six full-time members and four part-time members. The chairman and the members are appointed by the Central Government.
Objectives of NHAI
- Plan, develop, construct, operate and maintain national highways and expressways in India.
- Regulate and control the use of national highways and expressways for traffic and safety purposes.
- Collect tolls and fees for the use of national highways and expressways and utilize the revenues for their maintenance and improvement.
- Coordinate with the state governments and other agencies for the development of inter-state and international road connectivity.
- Promote research and development in the field of highway engineering and technology.
Key Initiatives of NHAI
- It was launched by the Government of India in 2017 to develop 34,800 km of roads, including 10,000 km of economic corridors, 9,000 km of border roads, 6,000 km of coastal roads and 2,000 km of greenfield expressways.
- The program aims to improve connectivity, reduce travel time and cost, boost trade and tourism, create employment opportunities and enhance regional integration.
Electronic Toll Collection (ETC)
- A system that enables automatic deduction of toll charges from vehicles using radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags or FASTags.
- The system eliminates the need for cash transactions at toll plazas, reduces congestion, saves fuel and time, prevents revenue leakage and enables seamless movement of vehicles across the country.
Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM)
- A public-private partnership model was introduced by NHAI in 2016 to attract private investment in highway projects.
- Under this model, NHAI pays 40% of the project cost during construction in five equal instalments and the remaining 60% is paid as an annuity over 15 years along with interest and operation and maintenance costs.
- The model reduces the financial risk for private developers and ensures the timely completion of projects.
Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)
- A mechanism launched by NHAI in 2020 to resolve disputes between NHAI and its contractors or concessionaires through online mediation or arbitration.
- The mechanism aims to expedite dispute resolution, reduce litigation costs, enhance trust and confidence among stakeholders and facilitate the smooth execution of projects.
Significance of Good Highways or Road Networks
- Highways and roads are essential infrastructures as they facilitate the movement of people, goods and services across different regions.
- A good highway or road network can have significant benefits for the economy, society and environment of a nation.
- It reduces the cost and time of transportation. This can improve the efficiency and productivity of various sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing, trade and tourism.
- For example, farmers can transport their produce to markets faster and cheaper, manufacturers can access raw materials and distribute their products more easily, traders can expand their markets and reach more customers, and tourists can enjoy more destinations and attractions.
- A good highway or road network can also attract more foreign investment and trade, as it enhances the connectivity and competitiveness of a country.
- It stimulates the development of other infrastructure and services along the routes. For instance, highways and roads can create opportunities for the construction of gas stations, restaurants, hotels, shops, schools, hospitals and other facilities that serve the needs of travellers and locals.
- These facilities can generate income and employment for the people living nearby, as well as improve their access to basic amenities and social services
- It improves the mobility and accessibility of people, especially those living in remote or rural areas. This can enhance their quality of life and well-being, as they can travel more conveniently and safely to other places for work, education, health care, recreation and social interaction.
- It can also foster social cohesion and integration, as it enables people from different regions, cultures and backgrounds to interact and exchange ideas more frequently.
- It reduces the risk of accidents and fatalities on the roads. This can be achieved by designing and building highways and roads that meet high standards of safety and quality, such as having adequate lighting, signage, drainage, guardrails, lanes, shoulders and bridges.
- It can also reduce traffic congestion and pollution, which can cause stress, health problems and environmental damage.
- It can contribute to the environmental sustainability of a country. One way is by promoting the use of public transportation and alternative modes of transportation, such as buses, trains, bicycles and walking. This can reduce the dependence on private vehicles and fossil fuels, which are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.
- It can support the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity, by avoiding or minimizing the negative impacts of construction and operation on the land, water and wildlife habitats.
Conclusion: A good highway or road network is a vital asset for any country, as it can bring multiple benefits to its economy, society and environment. Therefore, governments need to invest in the planning, construction and maintenance of highways and roads that are safe, efficient and sustainable.
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National Logistics Policy: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/national-logistics-policy
Q. What are the main objectives and challenges of the National Logistics Policy proposed by the Government of India and how will it affect the role and functioning of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI)?