I have been traveling quite often in last one year- Uttarakhand, Gujarat, UP and Bihar, and very recently Himachal Pradesh through Haryana and Punjab. As my mode of transportation, I always prefer a car vehicles mostly and knowingly to see the country from a nearer quarter and observe the progress on road building and its quality. Interestingly, NHAI has done and been doing a fantastic work in last few years. As reported, the Golden Quadrilateral is nearly complete. Even in the recent trip to Himachal I saw a lot of NHAI (National Highway Authority of India) protecting covers along the route where the work was in progress. Roads are getting widened, huge flyovers are being built, and service lanes are getting constructed. However, I have only one observation on the speed of work.
A nation expects road construction to go faster. When the land acquisition is over, why should there be so slow a progress? Is there a dearth of manpower in India for the work or does India lack the machinery and equipment for road construction at faster speed?
Perhaps what India lacks badly is a project management team that makes speed with quality of work as a mission. From Delhi to Chandigarh, we saw NHAI’s boards declaring ‘work under progress’, but we didn’t see any significant workforce deployed and work being done on a scale that shows the contractors are working to complete the task with a time frame in mind and a schedule to be maintained. Can someone challenge my observations to be wrong?
In Khizrapur, Ambala, and Panipat, huge and very long flyovers are under constructions causing terrifically agonising problems for local as well as long-distance-traveling commuters inching their vehicles for hours. Why can’t it be expedited, when once designed properly, each column is an independent construction, and many of the components are prefabricated?
It was a great experience to drive over 100kmph on the stretches such one between Ambala and Karnal or Panipat and Delhi that are complete. In Haryana, the divider landscaping and greenery are well maintained. However, One is to wait for many years to have a real fast movement on this road up to Chandigarh with no frequent slowing at crossings. I wish it could have been expedited. The construction must progress following the best benchmark of the developing nations of the world both for speed as well as quality of facilities getting created.
When will NHDP start measuring its performance by the kilometers of road constructed rather than by contracts given and its cost in crores? And when will our media start writing about these national projects and reasons of its slow speed of execution?
While in US and Europe, I found the majority of people going for holidays by their own vehicles. Commercial vehicles on the freeways in US and Europe were few. In India, the majority of vehicles on road are commercial ones both for goods and passengers. Many times, the drivers of those vehicles are adamant enough to disregard the lane rules, making the driving by the owner-drivers of passenger cars risky. Naturally, Indians are still far behind in using their cars for holidaying extensively. I have a plan to drive along the Golden Quadrilateral and write a book about it. I still hope one day someone would sponsor that. Can Indians consider this world class Golden Quadrilateral Expressway in planning their holidays or will they wait till some guru says that I would give them Nirvana or Moksha or take care of all their sins?
I experienced the biggest problem in driving in own vehicle in the hilly areas where mostly the roads were two-laned ones; say from Bilaspur to Manali, or from Kalka to Simla. The commercial vehicles were in majority, most of them with excessive overload, moving in first gear on climb, but still going dangerously for overtaking. Road widening may be difficult but at least the shouldering on both the sides could be tried by the authorities to make the driving a little safer. A stricter control on overloading could prevent many accidents. Why can’t the manufacturers incorporate something fool–proof in design itself? Is it not strange that most of the trucks on a national highway carry 65 to 80 tonnes when they are allowed to carry up to 30 tonnes of materials?
However, most pathetic are the eye shores of various types of structures coming up on both sides of these new highways or expressways. I saw a lot of demolitions too. But why can’t it be avoided. Perhaps, the Indian people in general require change in habits and adaptation to use these new roads.