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Challenges, opportunities & criticism of the Real Estate Regulatory Bill 2016

The Real Estate Regulatory Bill, 2016 is being hailed as a much-needed step to reform the real estate sector. It will help regulate the sector and bring in clarity for both buyers and developers.

What was the need for regulation in the real estate?

  • The real estate sector has some issues such as a lengthy process for project approvals, lack of clear land titles, and prevalence of black money
  • There wasn’t complete transparency as far as govt approvals were concerned
  • There were also instances when projects were sold without adequate clearances
  • The delayed projects, sometimes by up to years and arbitrary changes in layout plans are rampant in the sector

How does the Bill seeks to regulate the sector?

The basic thrust of this Bill is to regulate the delivery of projects to home buyers. It provides them a legal safeguard for their investment, and seeks to address timely delivery of houses. It seeks to enforce the contract between the developer and buyer and act as a fast track mechanism to settle disputes

  • It establishes state level regulatory authorities called Real Estate Regulatory Authorities (RERA)
  • The Bill establishes state level tribunals called Real Estate Appellate Tribunals.  Decisions of RERAs can be appealed in these tribunals
  • It makes mandatory the disclosure of all information for registered projects like details of promoters, layout plan, land status, schedule of execution and status of various approvals
  • The Bill prohibits a developer from changing the plan in a project unless two-thirds of the allottees have agreed for such a change
  • It says that builders must specify the time-frame for completion of projects and stick to it, or be ready to pay penalties
  • The Bill mandates that 70% of the amount collected from buyers of a project be used only for construction of that project This provision will effectively allow developers to continue their practice of diverting funds collected for a project towards land acquisition or other projects, and will work in their favour by also allowing them to grow their land and/or project portfolio>

How will the Real Estate Regulatory Authorities help improve the sector?

  • Residential real estate projects need to be registered with RERAs, except few
  • Promoters cannot book or offer these projects for sale without registering them
  • Real estate agents dealing in these projects also need to register with RERAs
  • On registration, the promoter need to provide details of the project to the RERA

Challenges ahead

  • The Bill will make life difficult for builders, as they would face more red-tapeism now, especially in procuring relevant approvals.
  • This Bill does not address the developers demand of a single-window clearance from the govt
  • The implementation of the Bill is up to the states, it leaves builders with greater chances of being harassed

Impact

  • Timely completion of projects would lead to a steady increase in supply of homes
  • It is expected that these measures will eventually bring down home prices and increase demand
  • It will be good for the overall economy too, as the housing sector has strong backward (cement, steel and other building material industries) and forward (furniture and furnishings, interior decoration, electrical and electronics) linkages with other industries
  • More number of job creation in the economy

Criticism

  • The builder lobbies argued that the bill should have a time-frame for municipal and other authorities to give timely approvals, because the delay in approvals lead to delays in handing over possession of apartments
  • In terms of pricing, which is governed by circle rates, it will be difficult to monitor

Future

  • The states’ support for faster clearances to projects will be required to make this Bill successful
  • Govt is also trying to bring in a National Urban Rental Housing Policy, which would take into account the requirements of tenancy hassles in modern days

Published with inputs from Pushpendra


 

Sagarmala Project: Smart ports for Blue Revolution in India

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Modi, on March,2015 gave its ‘in-principle’ approval for the concept and institutional framework of Sagarmala Project. Let’s take a glance on it.


What’s the prime objective of Sagarmala?

The prime objective of the Sagarmala project is to promote port-led direct and indirect development and to provide infrastructure to transport goods to and from ports quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.

What’s the current issue and background of ports in India?

  • At present there are around 200 ports (small and big) in the country, of these, only 12 are major ports which are government owned ports, which handle about 58% of sea-borne traffic.
  • These major ports operate as Trusts under the Major Ports Trust Act, 1963, except for the Port of Ennore, which is a company under the Companies Act.
  • There are legacy issues with these govt owned major ports, they do not keep pace with emerging technology, requirements of international trade, emerging trends in containerisation, flexible rules, size of ships etc.

Which are the 12 Major Ports ?

These are Kolkata (including Dock Complex at Haldia), Visakhapatnam, Chennai, V.O. Chidambaranar (Tuticorin), Cochin, New Mangalore, Mormugao, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Mumbai, Kandla and Ennore.


Just, Look back into the history?

In 2003, then PM Vajpayee proposed Project Sagarmala with following features:

  • Setup Sagarmala Development Authority (Similar to National highway authority of India).
  • It will get money via Maritime development cess. (5 paise per kg on cargo).
  • It will improve ports, shipping industry, inland water transport, coastal shipping.
  • PPP and FDI to gather more investment.

Then, which are the Key pillars to achieve Smart-development ?

  • Supporting and enabling Port-led Development through appropriate policy and institutional interventions.
  • Providing for an institutional framework for ensuring inter-agency and states’ collaboration for integrated development.
  • Port Infrastructure Enhancement, including modernization and setting up of new ports.
  • Efficient Evacuation to and from hinterland.

What are some of the measures to make Smart Ports?

  • Ports should be registered as Companies under Companies Act.
  • The port administration should only look after the provisions of infrastructure and safety and not day-to-day running of the port
  • There is still no regulation to control the trade practices.
  • Hence, there is a dire need to introduce a regulatory architecture that takes care of ex-ante declaration of rates of services.

Then, what’s the plan to implement such a vast initiative?

  • For a comprehensive and integrated planning for “Sagarmala”, a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for the entire coastline shall be prepared within six months.
  • It will identify potential geographical regions to be called Coastal Economic Zones (CEZ).
  • While preparing the NPP, synergy and integration with planned Industrial Corridors, Dedicated Freight Corridors, National Highway Development Programme, Industrial Clusters and SEZs would be ensured.

What are the suggestions for effective mechanism at state level?

  • Set up State Sagarmala Committee to be headed by CM / Minister in Charge of Ports.
  • Sagarmala Coordination and Steering Committee (SCSC) shall be constituted under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary and others.
  • This Committee will provide coordination between ministries, state governments and agencies connected with implementation and review the progress of implementation of the National Perspective Plan.

How does it ensure the sustainable development in CEZ?

  • This would be done by synergising and coordinating with State Governments and line Ministries of Central Government through their existing programmes.
  • Such as those related to community and rural development, tribal development and employment generation, fisheries, skill development, tourism promotion etc.
  • In order to provide funding for such projects and activities that may be covered by departmental schemes a separate fund by the name ‘Community Development Fund’ would be created.

What’s the role of Institutional Framework ?

  • It has to provide for a coordinating role for the Central Government.
  • It should provide a platform for central, state governments and local authorities to work in tandem and coordination under the established principles of cooperative federalism.

What’s the role of NSAC?

A National Sagarmala Apex Committee (NSAC) is envisaged for overall policy guidance and high level coordination, and to review various aspects of planning and implementation of the plan and projects.

So, Is it Good to have smart ports on the line of Smart Cities?

Can you answer some questions?

#1. Can you examine the bottlenecks in Indian port infrastructure and list the initiative taken in recent times to address this issue?

#Q.2 Indian port infrastructure can be revamped by Sagarmala project by effective management? critically comment.


Published with inputs from Arun

Any doubts?


[op-ed snap] Bharatmala will raise debt issues for some

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Bharatmala Project

Mains level: The risk of default by BOT operators due to conflicts of the scheme with existing Toll Road Projects and need of a mechanism to avoid such conflicts


Context

The poor condition of roads

  1. Indian roads are usually characterized by poor infrastructure and congestion
  2. This affects travel time and road safety which is a big hindrance to economic development and leads to inefficiency in the transportation of goods and services across the country

Bharatmala program and diversion of traffic

  1. The Bharatmala programme may result in traffic diversion from the existing road network to new roads,
    thereby affecting the toll collection and, consequently, the debt servicing ability of some of the BOT and
    OMT projects
  2. Out of the proposed 44 Economic Corridors in Bharatmala, about 21 would partially or fully affect the existing alignments
  3. This has raised the risk of default on 25 national highway toll projects which involve Rs 19,435 crore of
    debt
  4. The risk of such loan defaults will add to banks’ and financial lenders’ stressed assets and non-performing assets

What can BOT operators do?

  1. The stretches under ECs of the Bharatmala Pariyojana are either longer by more than 20%, or traverse a
    new route completely
  2. Hence, they do not fit into the description of the additional tollways, as defined in Article 30 of the
    concession agreement
  3. Thus, there would be no compensation payable for traffic loss on account of the
    Bharatmala programme
  4. In such cases, the concessionaire (contractor) may opt for termination of the concession agreement, in
    which case the termination payment is payable by the Authority (under Authority Event of Default)
  5. The termination payment is equivalent to 90% of the debt due

Kelkar Committee Recommendations

  1. To ensure that the existing BOT projects that are at risk of default do not turn bad for the financial
    institutions, swift and adequate measures are needed
  2. The Kelkar committee had observed that since infrastructure projects span over 20-30 years, a private developer may lose bargaining power owing to abrupt changes in the economic or policy environment
  3. It has thus recommended that the private sector must be protected against such loss. This could be ensured by allowing renegotiation of the terms of the concession agreement
  4. Financial institutions are already reluctant to finance the infrastructure sector, given the rise in non-performing assets (NPAs)

Way Forward

  1. The need of the hour is to realign the terms and conditions of the model concession agreement to ensure that banks do not end up accumulating NPAs
  2. Alternatively, the NHAI can compensate the affected BOT operators and account for it in the total outlay of the Bharatmala programme
  3. Having an appropriate remedial mechanism for BOT operators will help retain interest for investments in new projects; for the lenders, it will help curtail the number of stressed assets from the risk of default

Back2Basics

Bharat Mala Pariyojana

  1. The government has embarked upon a massive overhaul of the country’s road network through Bharatmala Pariyojana
  2. It is an umbrella highway development programme involving 34,800 km of road network at an
    investment of Rs5.35 trillion, to be completed by 2022
  3. The government has assigned NHAI, National Highway and Industrial Development Corporation (NHIDCL) and state public work departments for the highway projects
  4. The programme focuses on optimizing the efficiency of road traffic movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps through shorter routes
  5. The end goal is to create economic corridors (ECs) along the path—new industries, more employment and new markets—thereby bringing socio-economic change and upliftment of the underdeveloped regions of the country

[op-ed snap] Hitting the highway construction target

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: EPC, HAM, etc.

Mains level: The newscard suggests some effective solutions to increase long-term investment in the highway construction projects.


News

Government focus on the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) and hybrid annuity model (HAM)

  1. From last few years, a substantial number of national highway projects have been awarded through the EPC and HAM routes rather than the build, operate, transfer (BOT) mode that was dominant earlier
    Fiscal stress
  2. Given that about Rs5 trillion of funding is required over the next five years to build highways under the ambitious Bharatmala project,
  3. there could be incipient fiscal stress if the pace of project awards through these modes continues
    What should be done?
  4. It would be wise to facilitate more private sector funding of greenfield BOT projects

How to increase long term investment in national highway projects?

  1. In order to improve participation by long-term investors and achieve the highway construction target of 45km per day,
  2. it is critical to revisit the issues deterring investors/private developers within the overall framework of the concession agreements
    (issues are given below)

First: Easier land acquisition

  1. The recent increase in compensation rates to farmers for their land and digitization of land records are expected to increase the project implementation rate
  2. Also, all land that could prevent the construction of any critical element for toll projects should be granted upfront
  3. This condition should not be waived at all

Second: Arbitration

  1. In 2016, the government released new guidelines for arbitration
  2. The government said it would release 75% of the arbitral claim amounts against margin-free bank guarantees in situations where arbitral awards have been given but contested by the relevant authorities
  3. However, this scheme has benefited only a few because most developers were unable to provide bank guarantees
  4. Banks are wary of offering margin-free guarantees because many developers have weak financials

Third: Renegotiation of contracts

  1. Although the Union budget for fiscal 2017 announced that guidelines for the renegotiation of PPP concession agreements would be released, there’s no sign of that yet
  2. A pertinent example would be of what happened during demonetisation
  3. Private road developers did not have the bargaining power to offset revenue loss when tolls were suspended in the absence of a renegotiation clause for unforeseen circumstances in concession agreements
  4. Therefore, the government should facilitate timely compensation by embedding it in the “change in law” clause of concession agreements

The way forward

  1. Enhancing the enforceability of contracts and striving for predictability in execution are necessary to attract private capital in crucial infrastructure sectors such as roads
  2. Going the whole hog on HAM— and EPC—and stretching the fiscal deficit would be folly

‘9,000 km of NH laid in FY 2018’

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Infrastructure development is an important topic for Mains Paper 3.


News

20% increase in construction

  1. According to ministry for Road Transport and Highways, over 9,829 km of National Highways was constructed during the financial year 2017-18,
  2. recording a growth of 20% over the previous year
  3. The target of constructing 40 km a day would be achieved by the end of this fiscal

New method of calculating highways construction

  1. The Minister also announced that the government would adopt international norms for calculating highways construction from this fiscal
  2. The new method would would include measuring lane kilometres instead of linear distance
    Old method
  3. Until now, whether government constructed (1 kilometre of) six lanes or 14 lanes, it was considered as 1 kilometre, but the world standard is different
  4. This method did not truly reflect the amount of work completed, and that globally the length of each lane was calculated separately

Road development in the financial year 2018

  1. Works for 17,055 km of road length were awarded in the financial year 2018, of which 9,829 km had been constructed as compared to 8,231 km in the year before
  2. An expenditure of Rs. 1,16,324 crore was incurred last fiscal

NHAI plan for taxable bonds to fund Bharatmala scheme worries govt

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Prelims Level: Bharatmala Project, NSC certificates, etc.

Mains Level: Concerns raised by the government


News

What is the issue?

  1. The finance ministry has flagged concerns over state-run National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI’s) plan to float taxable bonds
  2. The NHAI wants to raise Rs3,000 crore to finance the ambitious Bharatmala scheme for road construction
  3. The plan to float taxable bonds came after the Union budget failed to provide any budgetary assistance for Bharatmala

What are the concerns?

  1. The concerns range from the impact of these bonds on other instruments such as National Savings Certificates (NSC) to the quantum of the float

Particulars of the Bharatmala Scheme

  1. The total length to be developed as expressways under Bharatmala will be 51,000km
  2. India plans to invest as much as Rs5.97 trillion in the current fiscal to bankroll its new integrated infrastructure programme, which involves building of roads, railways, waterways and airports

India’s 1st pod taxi on the way, to follow U.S. safety norms

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Personal Rapid Transit (PRT), Automated people mover (APM) standards, PPP

Mains level: New modes of high-speed transportation being adopted in India and all aspects related to them


News

India’s first pod taxi project moves a step forward

  1. The projected pod taxi scheme — also known as Personal Rapid Transit (PRT)  has moved a step closer to reality
  2. PRT is an advanced public transport using automated electric pod cars to provide a taxi-like demand responsive feeder and shuttle services for small groups of travelers and is a green mode of uninterrupted journey
  3. A high-level panel recommended inviting fresh bids for the same conforming to the strictest safety standards on the lines of those prescribed by an American body

About the project

  1. NHAI has been mandated to execute it on Delhi-Gurgaon pilot corridor from Delhi-Haryana border to Rajiv Chowk in Gurgaon on a PPP (public-private partnership) basis
  2. It will be incorporating Automated People Movers (APM) standards and specifications, along with other general safety parameters with Niti Aayog recommendations

Automated people mover (APM) standards in the US

  1. These are recommended by the committee for the maiden PRT in India and have been prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
  2. These constitute the minimum requirements for an acceptable level of safety and performance for the PRT
  3. These include vehicle arrival audio and video visual warning system, platform sloping, evacuation of misaligned vehicles, surveillance/CCTV, audio communication, emergency call points and fire protection, among other advanced systems

Is this first pod taxi project in the world?

  1. The model is in place at London’s Heathrow airport, Morgantown and Masdar city

Government approves Rs 7 lakh crore highway projects including Bharatmala

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.

Prelims: Bharatmala, Public Investment Board.

Mains level: Not Much.

 


News

Context

The government approved Rs 7 lakh crore worth highway projects including the ambitious Bharatmala.

Bharatmala Project

  1. The Bharatmala project will build over 20,000 km of highways in the first phase in border and other areas.
  2. Bharatmala is a mega plan of the government and the second-largest highways project after NHDP that saw development of about 50,000 km, and aims at improving connectivity.
  3. Detailed project reports (DPRs) are being prepared for the Bharatmala

Economic Corridor development project

  1. The Cabinet also gave the go ahead to other highway projects for development of over 80,000 km of highways including Bharatmala project in the next five years.
  2. It also includes economic corridor developments aimed at faster movement of cargo.
  3. The government had earlier planned to develop economic corridors with a length of about 21,000 km besides 14,000 km of feeder routes.
  4. The corridors included Mumbai-Cochin-Kanyakumari, Bengaluru-Mangaluru, Hyderabad-Panaji and Sambalpur-Ranchi, to name a few.
  5. A study under the proposed Bharatmala project by global consultancy firm AT Kearney had identified 44 economic corridors.

Public Investment Board

  1. The Prime Minister’s Office had asked for Public Investment Board’s (PIB) clearance to the first phase of the project.
  2. PIB, chaired by the expenditure secretary had later approved it.
  3. Other members of PIB included secretaries of economic affairs, Niti Aayog, statistics and programme implementation, environment and forests, besides the secretary of the administrative ministry

 


Back2basics

Bharatmala project

  1. Bharatmala envisions 44 economic corridors across the country at a cost of at least Rs 5 lakh crore.
  2. The programme also envisions to enhance NHAI’s powers.
  3. The Bharatmala corridors have been mapped as per traffic density and economic relevance of the cities that will be connected with the help of the Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geo-informatics.
  4. The project involves constructing 24,000km of fresh highways.
  5. The project is aimed at speeding up cargo movement and the development of multimodal logistics hubs and parks on the periphery of major commercial centres.
  6. The project includes construction of feeder routes alongside national highways.
  7. Around 80% of Bharatmala will be based on a government funded, engineering procurement and construction (EPC) model while the rest will be a hybrid-annuity public private partnership.

Infra needs $150-$300 bn. equity over 5 years II

  1. PPP: The NIIF will work on creating smart public private partnerships (PPPs) to fund projects of unprecedented scale
  2. It will also continuously suggest policy improvements to support infrastructure sector investments
  3. In the past: Capital was invested on a fragmented basis by companies that had relatively little access to equity
  4. As a result, they took a more short-term development oriented approach to investing
  5. What we are hoping and expect to do at NIIF, is to complement the short-term development capital

Infra needs $150-$300 bn. equity over 5 years I

  1. Source: National Investment and Infrastructure Fund CEO Sujoy Bose
  2. Amount: India needs $150 billion to $300 billion of equity over the next five years to drive infrastructure investments
  3. NIIF will start operations with a first-phase corpus of $6 billion
  4. It will focus on equity and quasi-equity investments at a scale never seen before in India as it will be six times larger than the biggest infrastructure fund currently
  5. The private or public sectors can’t meet this investment demand on their own

Govt sets rules for speedy redressal of construction sector disputes- II

  1. Rule: Govt agencies and public bodies would pay 75% of the money to the contractors in cases of any dispute
  2. Aim: To infuse liquidity into the stressed construction sector and help create more jobs
  3. Issue: There are a large number of projects where payments have not been made and consequently the contractors have not been able to pay the banks
  4. Therefore, it has adversely impacted the balance sheet of both the companies and the banks as a result of which the projects have come to a halt

Govt sets rules for speedy redressal of construction sector disputes- I

  1. What? Whenever there are disputes pending between public bodies and construction contractors under the old arbitration Act, which was time consuming, there will be an option to shift them to the new arbitration procedure which is cheaper and faster
  2. Conciliation: In all new contracts relating to construction, there will be a conciliation board provision which will consist of independent subject experts
  3. Why? Because when commercial circumstances change and public servants are reluctant to participate in the renegotiation, there will be a contractual mechanism under which those terms could be renegotiated without bringing the projects to a standstill

Cabinet nod for Rs.27,000 cr. roads and railways projects

  1. Aim: To boost economic growth
  2. Background: The government plans to increase its investments in the infrastructure sector
  3. Budget docs: About 8,300 kilometres of roads involving more than Rs.1 lakh crore investments were revived
  4. Total investments earmarked in the current fiscal for roads and railways sectors amounts to Rs.2.18 lakh crore
  5. Ports: Augmenting port capacity by developing greenfield projects in both eastern and western coasts
  6. Aviation: The Centre plans to revive torpid airports

Centre notifies Good Samaritan SOPs

  1. News: Centre issued a notification on Good Samaritans which would go a long way in encouraging witnesses to report accidents to the police
  2. The affidavit of Good Samaritan, a person who voluntarily declares himself to be an eyewitness, shall be treated by the investigating officer as a final statement
  3. Aim: No bystander rushing to the rescue of an accident victim should be subject to civil or criminal liability and/or be forced to be a witness
  4. Any disclosure of personal information or offer to be a witness, in the event of the Good Samaritan also being an eyewitness to an accident, ought to be voluntary
  5. The examination of such a volunteer as a witness shall be done only on a single occasion and without harassment or intimidation
  6. Background: The notification is in response to Supreme Court directions in an October 2014 case of SaveLIFE Foundation asking the Centre to issue directions to save Good Samaritans until Parliament frames a law

Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill introduced in LS

 


  1. Proposals: Introduce online learning licence
  2. Simplify insurance provisions for early help to victims, families
  3. Increase renewal deadline for driving licences from one month to six months
  4. Increase period of renewal of transport licence from three to five years
  5. Allow licence for the differently abled
  6. Allow states to relax provisions related to permits, to boost public transport
  7. Increase fines and penalties for traffic violations
  8. To make a provision for protection of those who stop and help in a mishap
  9. To create national registries for driving licence and vehicle registration

Multi-modal logistics park to come up in south Goa

  1. MoU: The Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) and Container Corporation of India Ltd. (CONCOR) will enter into a memorandum of understandings
  2. Aim: To set up a multi modal logistics park (MMLP) at Balli railway station in south Goa
  3. MMLP: Initially spread over 94,000 square meters with a scope for expansion as the traffic may grow in future
  4. This logistics park will be able to handle both domestic and export-import container traffic
  5. In addition to container traffic, commodities transported by both open and covered wagons can also be handled from here
  6. Both, trade and industry in Goa will greatly benefit from the economic transport solutions the state-of-the-art facilities will provide

Interlinking of highways on anvil

  1. Context: Govt has prepared a roadmap to connect some of the major national highways in the country
  2. Aim: Inter-linking the highways from North to South and East to West in the pattern of a grid, allowing smooth and uninterrupted access from one region to another
  3. Grid formation or connecting the national highways in the form of a grid is one of the basic practices of highway planning
  4. The National Highways Authority of India has prepared a grid of 27 vertical and horizontal highways for connection

Gadkari proposes four-member panel to resolve road sector issues

  1. News: The Road Transport and Highways Minister has proposed that the resolution of disputes over stalled projects be tasked to a 4-member panel led by a former HC judge
  2. Reason: A lot of cases related to stalled projects are pending in the Supreme Court and the High courts
  3. Statistics:  In 2014, there were 384 stuck road projects

Centre to sign pacts worth over Rs.72,000 cr at shipping summit

  1. News: Agreements with private players on port-related projects at the Indian Maritime Summit to be held in Mumbai next month
  2. Context: Over 150 projects will be showcased for investment under the Sagarmala Project for port modernisation
  3. Sectors identified: Include ship-building, ship repair and recycling, port modernisation, new port development and multi-model logistic hubs among others
  4. Opportunities: To create 40 lakh direct employment and 50 lakh indirect employment in 5 yrs in maritime sector
  5. Sagarmala Project: Programmes include port modernisation, port connectivity and port-led industrialisation besides coastal community development

Infrastructure project delays will be a thing of the past, says Finance Minister

  1. News: There are several measures taken by govt. to fast track the delayed projects
  2. Measures:  A statutory mechanism would be created to negotiate cost escalations under an oversight would be put into operation
  3. The recently enacted arbitration law provided a fast-track mechanism to resolve cases within a year.
  4. Commercial divisions are created in every High Court to handle the legal issues
  5. Challenges: As project proceeds, there are cost escalation due to increase in cost of raw material and labour

PM Modi launches ‘Setu Bharatam’ project

  1. News: Setu Bharatam programme for building bridges for safe and seamless travel on National Highways
  2. Aim: To make all national highways free from railway level crossing by 2019 to ensure road safety
  3. How? Very old bridges will be reconstructed and revamped along with 208 rail-over bridges & rail-under bridges

India needs i-ways and highways: PM

  1. Context: PM Modi launches, the Rs. 50,000 crore Setu Bharatam project
  2. Aim: To make all national highways free from railway level-crossings by 2019 to ensure road safety
  3. Under the project: 208 rail overbridges and under bridges will be built at a cost of Rs. 20,800 crore
  4. 1,500 decade-old bridges will be reconstructed and revamped, spending Rs. 30,000 crore
  5. Way forward: Country needs both highways and i-ways (information ways), referring to digital connect

New credit rating system for infra: Budget

  1. Earlier: Relied upon a standard perception of risk
  2. Negative Points: This often result in mispriced loans
  3. New way: Emphasis to various in-built credit enhancement structures
  4. Positive Point: Help infra projects access credit from multiple sources at better rates
  5. Unclear about: How the new system would be different from the existing one
  6. Also whether it would be for operational projects or under-development projects or both

Infrastructure gets the much needed push

  1. News: There is a record budgetary allocation of Rs. 2.21 lakh crore for infrastructure sector
  2. Roads: The roads sector has been allocated Rs. 97,000 crore, including Rs. 19,000 crore earmarked under the PM Gram Sadak Yojna
  3. Ports: A series of measures for modernising existing ports and building new ports along India’s east and west coasts, through PPP mode
  4. Objective: To revive investments in the sector with the participation of the private players
  5. Impact: It will provide impetus for enhanced growth and in turn, generate employment

Govt. to build more national highways: Gadkari

  1. Context: The govt has decided to increase the length of national highways from 96,000 km to 2 lakh km
  2. Reason: To decongest traffic in the country because 40% of the traffic moves on national highways and as a result 5 lakh accidents take place
  3. How the highways will be chosen? – A formula based on vehicular traffic, according to which 4-lane, 6-lane and express highways would be constructed

Policy to scrap old vehicles to be sent to Cabinet by month end

  1. The govt. is working on a plan to phase out old vehicles from the roads
  2. The Road Transport Ministry also tried to convince Finance Ministry to introduce new schemes in the next Budget that would help the auto sector
  3. The auto industry has been demanding a uniform policy in this regard for a long time
  4. Scrapping of old vehicles will not only create a market for new vehicles but also help in reducing the pollution to some extent
  5. Automobile manufacturers have expressed doubts on whether BS-VI compatible fuel would be available in time as the entire country is yet to be covered by BS-IV, although it was introduced in 2010

Government may ask central bank to consider roads as a priority sector

  1. The govt. will soon approach the RBI Governor with a proposal to include road projects under the priority sector list for lending purposes.
  2. It will also seek review of the NPA norms to revive Rs. 40,000-crore worth of highway projects.
  3. One of the main reasons behind the delay in highway projects is shortage of funds.
  4. The road contractors said that banks were reluctant to fund projects due to mounting NPAs.
  5. The govt officials argue that the managerial inefficiencies of developers have stalled these projects.

Gadkari announces Rs 50,000 crore for infra projects in TN

Prime Minister Modi would lay foundation stone for the much-anticipated Colechal Port Project before March 8 along with the Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

  1. Union Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping said the Centre had sanctioned Rs. 33,000 crore.
  2. For infrastructure projects including construction of Rail-Over-Bridges (ROB), upgradation of state highways into National Highways and major bridges.
  3. The 39 NH projects for a length of 1,974 km at an estimated cost of Rs. 12,000 crore are under progress.
  4. A sum of Rs. 300 crore has been sanctioned for construction of 4 flyovers in Kanyakumari district in Ozhiginaseri, Vadaseri, Thuckalay and Chettikulam.

Right track

Connecting the northeastern capitals by rail will produce enormous dividends.

  1. First broad-gauge locomotive has rolled into the capital of Tripura on a trial run,passenger services will commence in March, and travellers will be able to ride directly to Kolkata.
  2. Bus service already connects the two cities but the route cuts through Bangladesh. This excludes travellers without passports
  3. This is the first step in a long overdue project, deadlined for 2020, to connect the capitals of all the northeastern states to the rest of India.
  4. By 2017, a line will be laid to Akhaura in Bangladesh, which will offer through connectivity all the way to Chittagong.
  5. Railway system has served India as a great unifier, binding together diverse cultures in a web of steel.
  6. This project will reduce the psychological distances which seem to sequester the Northeast.

Road Ministry proposes policy on scrapping vehicles

  1. The govt may announce cash and tax benefits to owners of old vehicles if they scrap and replace them in the Union Budget this year.
  2. It may also double the fleet of public transport buses to check pollution.
  3. The Road & Transport Ministry has requested at least 50% rebate in excise duty to people who, on purchase of new vehicles, give their old vehicles in exchange for scrapping.
  4. This will be a part of the proposed ‘end of life’ policy for old vehicles.
  5. A separate environment-friendly industry to scrap old vehicles is proposed.

Satellite technology to help NHAI monitor highway projects

  1. NHAI has signed MoU with National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) under ISRO and North East Centre for Technology Application and Research (NECTAR).
  2. For use of spatial technology for monitoring and managing National Highways.
  3. The use of satellite data and geospatial technology will be useful in providing inputs in highway and infrastructure projects.
  4. NECTAR, Department of Science and Technology uses Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for acquiring aerial images for infrastructure planning.
PIB

J&K town gets a cable bridge, comes closer to rest of country

  1. North India’s first cable-stayed bridge named Atal Setu was inaugurated on Dunera-Basohli-Bhadharwah road in Kathua district of J&K.
  2. The work of bridge started in September 2011.
  3. It has been constructed by Border Roads Organization (BRO) at a cost of Rs 145 crore.
  4. The bridge is strategically important from the defence point of view.

NHAI approves pilot project for developing greenbelts along highways

The project will be implemented on a 5 km stretch on NH-7 between Jam and Hinganghat in Nagpur region at an estimated cost of Rs 11.80 crore.

  1. Around 20,000 trees of scientifically chosen species have been proposed to be planted on both sides of the stretch in multiple rows.
  2. The work activities delineated into two major factors, highway requirement, objectives and plant characteristics to fit in the site requirement.
  3. The project will also assist in developing relevant research infrastructure that may be used for similar studies in future.

Govt launches Green Highways Policy

Green Highways (Plantation, Transplantation, Beautification & Maintenance) Policy 2015, aims at planting trees along 6,000 km of highways in the first year

  1. Aim is to help the environment, help local communities, and generate employment by planting trees along all the highways in the country.
  2. The Green Highway Policy will help in making India pollution free. It will also help in curtailing the number of road accidents in India.
  3. The vision of the policy is to provide dignified employment to local people and communities.
  4. The vision of the policy is to develop eco-friendly National Highways with the participation of the community, NGOs, private sector and the Forest Department for economic growth and development in a sustainable manner.

US investors show interest in highway projects

New projects worth $45 billion under National Highways Development Programme discussed.

  1. A group of investors from the US expressed interest in investing in the highways sector in India.
  2. Investments opportunities to the tune of Rs 60,000-70,000 crore for maintaining completed highways & new projects, estimated at $45 billion under the National Highways Development Programme.
  3. The investors were keen on operations contracts for completed stretches of public-funded highways on the TOT (toll-operate-transfer) basis.
  4. It would help the government mobilise additional resources for new highways across the country.
  5. Under the TOT model, completed stretches of highways by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) or a concessionaire will be bid out to the private sector for a concession period of 30 yrs.
  6. A big push in the roads sector is key to the govt’s infrastructure focus, wherein it has target to award highway projects worth Rs 3.5 lakh crore.

Govt. plans green road corridors

The Union government plans to unveil its Green Highways policy.

  1. The bushes and trees will be grown along all the highways in a phased manner.
  2. The purpose of this policy is to promote the greening of highway corridors with the participation of the local community, including local contractors and the local Forest Department.
  3. The latent objective is to generate employment too.
  4. The investment in the project would be Rs. 1,000 crore this year, as 1% of the Rs. 1 lakh-crore investment in national highway projects expected in this year.

Roads, power investments rise

  1. The is a 48% rise in the announcement of new projects in the first quarter of FY 2015-16 as compared to same period previous year.
  2. The govt. has gone to great lengths to convey its success in getting stalled projects moving and also in boosting new investments, especially in the road sector.
  3. The road transport sector has seen a sharp growth in investment since the NDA govt. has come to power.

Delays dog the Highways Projects

  1. Main reasons for delays are weather, violence and truancy by contractors.
  2. 32 of the 125 delayed projects related to the Golden Quadrilateral Project have been delayed by more than 5 years.
  3. In a sharp contrast, highways under the Border Road Organization are well on track.


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