Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

All that you need to know about the latest developments in 2015/16 and beyond.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

[pib] Haldibari- Chilahati Rail Link

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Haldibari- Chilahati Rail Link

Mains level : Not Much

The freight trains have started commuting via the restored Haldibari (India) – Chilahati (Bangladesh) rail link.

Haldibari- Chilahati Rail Link

  • The Haldibari – Chilahati rail link between India and then East Pakistan was operational till 1965.
  • The distance between Haldibari Railway Station till the international border is 4.5 km, while that of Chilahati is around 7.5 km till the ‘zero points’.
  • This was part of the Broad-Gauge main route from Kolkata to Siliguri during the partition.
  • Trains traveling to Assam and North Bengal continued to travel through the then East Pakistan territory even after partition.
  • However, the war of 1965 effectively cut off all the railway links between India and then East Pakistan.
  • The link was reopened in 2020 for the movement of passenger and goods traffic.

Other railway links between India and Bangladesh

As of now, five links connecting India with Bangladesh have been made operational which include:

  • Petrapole (India) – Benapole (Bangladesh)
  • Gede (India) – Darshana (Bangladesh)
  • Singhabad (India) – Rohanpur (Bangladesh)
  • Radhikapur (India) – Birol (Bangladesh)
  • Haldibari (India) – Chilahati (Bangladesh)

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

[pib] Kuthiran Tunnel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kuthiran tunnel

Mains level : Not Much

The Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways has inaugurated the Kuthiran Tunnel in Kerala

Kuthiran Tunnel

  • Kuthiran Tunnel is a Twin-tube tunnel at Kuthiran in Thrissur District of Kerala.
  • It is located on National Highway 544, owned and operated by the National Highways Authority of India.
  • It is Kerala’s first-ever tunnel for road transport and South India’s Longest 6-lane road tunnel.
  • Kuthiran gradient is situated in the Kuthiran Hills, situated in the western part of Anaimalai Hills. The hills are a notified Peechi- Vazahani wildlife sanctuary.
  • It will drastically improve connectivity to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
  • The road will improve connectivity to important ports and towns in North-South Corridor without endangering wildlife.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

[pib] Fast Tracking Freight in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Freight transport in India

Mains level : NA

NITI Aayog, RMI and RMI India’s new report, Fast Tracking Freight in India: A Roadmap for Clean and Cost-Effective Goods Transport, presents key opportunities for India to reduce its logistics costs.

Freight transport in India

  • Freight transportation is a critical backbone of India’s growing economy, and now more than ever, it’s important to make this transport system more cost-effective, efficient, and cleaner.
  • Due to the rising demand for goods and services, freight transport demand is expected to grow rapidly in the future.
  • While freight transport is essential to economic development, it is plagued by high logistics costs and contributes to rising CO2 emissions and air pollution in cities.

Highlights of the Roadmap

  • According to the report, India has the potential to:
  1. Reduce its logistics cost by 4% of GDP
  2. Achieve 10 gigatonnes of cumulative CO2 emissions savings between 2020 and 2050
  3. Reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions by 35% and 28%, respectively, until 2050
  • The report outlines solutions for the freight sector related to policy, technology, market, business models, and infrastructure development.

Various recommendations

  • The recommendations include increasing the rail network’s capacity, promoting intermodal transport, improving warehousing and trucking practices, policy measures and pilot projects for clean technology adoption, and stricter fuel economy standards.
  • When successfully deployed at scale, the proposed solutions can help India establish itself as a leader in logistics innovation and efficiency in the Asia–Pacific region and beyond.

Transforming the system

  • As India’s freight activity grows five-fold by 2050 and about 400 million citizens move to cities, a whole system transformation can help uplift the freight sector.
  • This transformation will be defined by tapping into opportunities such as efficient rail-based transport, the optimization of logistics and supply chains, and a shift to electric and other clean-fuel vehicles.
  • These solutions can help India save ₹311 lakh crore cumulatively over the next three decades.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

New Vehicle Scrappage Policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Vehicle Scrappage Policy

Auto majors have welcomed the new vehicle scrappage policy rolled out by Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, saying it would encourage people to replace old vehicles while boosting the sector.

Under the policy, those choosing to voluntarily scrap their old vehicles will get financial incentives from the government and the automaker.

Vehicle Scrappage Policy: Key Highlights

  • Personal vehicles older than 20 years and commercial vehicles older than 15 years will have to undergo a fitness test at the government registered ‘Automated Fitness Centres’.
  • Vehicles that fail to pass the test will be declared as ‘end-of-life vehicles’, which would mean that the vehicle would have to be recycled.
  • This will pave the way for older vehicles to be scrapped.
  • In case, the vehicles pass the test, owners will have to pay a hefty fee for re-registration.
  • According to the new policy, the re-registration fee would be hiked around eight times for personal vehicles, and around 20 times for commercial vehicles.

What Are Automated Fitness Centres?

  • Every vehicle will have to go under a mandatory fitness test at the automated fitness centres.
  • The government aims to have at least 718 centres across the country.
  • These centres will test the vehicle’s emission, and braking and other safety components as prescribed by Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989.
  • Appointments to these centres will have to be booked online and the fitness report will be electronically generated.

Change in Fee Structure

  • The government has increased the fee for renewal and grant of fitness certificate of older vehicles up to 20 times.
  • Here is the new fee structure for personal vehicles older than 15 years:
  1. Two-wheelers – Rs 1,000
  2. Three-wheeler/quadricycles – Rs 3,500
  3. Cars – Rs 7,500

(Do not worry about the data. It is the state PSCs which may ask such information)

For commercial vehicles:

  1. Passenger motor vehicles – Rs 10,000
  2. Heavy goods/large motor vehicles – Rs 12,500

Benefits for buyers

  • In case you decide to scrap your old vehicle at the registered scrapping centres, you will get approximately 4-6 per cent of the value of the vehicle’s ex-showroom price.
  • The ex-showroom price is the cost of the vehicle, excluding the charges paid for registering the vehicle at RTO and insurance.
  • Moreover, if you buy a new vehicle you will be given a flat 5 per cent discount on presenting a scrapping certificate.
  • Registration fees will also be waived on the purchase of a new vehicle.

Obtaining a Scrapping Certificate

  • Old vehicle owners will be able to formally scrap their registered vehicles at the automated scrapping centres.
  • These centres will be linked with the Vahan database of the transport ministry.
  • After you scrap your vehicle with the government registered agency, you will be provided with the scrapping certificate.
  • You will then be eligible for the benefits proposed under the scheme.

Implementation

Tentative timeline for the new rules:

  • Rules for fitness tests and government scrapping centres to come into effect – 1 October 2021
  • The scrapping of government and PSU vehicles above 15 years of age to start – 1 April 2022
  • Fitness testing for heavy commercial vehicles – 1 April 2023

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

[pib] FASTag declared mandatory

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fastag

Mains level : Fastag and its benefits for speedy transport

Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has decided that all lanes in the fee plazas on National Highways shall be declared as “FASTag lane of the fee plaza”.

Fastag went unnoticed this year. The RFID technology deployed in this holds an intuition for its relevance in CS prelims and many forthcoming exams.

What is ‘FASTag’?

  • FASTags are stickers that are affixed to the windscreen of vehicles and use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to enable digital, contactless payment of tolls without having to stop at toll gates.
  • The tags are linked to bank accounts and other payment methods.
  • As a car crosses a toll plaza, the amount is automatically deducted, and a notification is sent to the registered mobile phone number.

How does it work?

  • The device employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for payments directly from the prepaid or savings account linked to it.
  • It is affixed on the windscreen, so the vehicle can drive through plazas without stopping.
  • RFID technology is similar to that used in transport access-control systems, like Metro smart card.
  • If the tag is linked to a prepaid account like a wallet or a debit/credit card, then owners need to recharge/top up the tag.
  • If it is linked to a savings account, then money will get deducted automatically after the balance goes below a pre-defined threshold.
  • Once a vehicle crosses the toll, the owner will get an SMS alert on the deduction. In that, it is like a prepaid e-wallet.

Must read:

[Burning Issue] Implementation of FASTags

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

What are Fastags?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Fastag

Mains level : RFID technology

From January 1, all lanes of National Highways will accept only electronic payments through FASTag.

Fastags work on a unique technology called RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). This has gone unnoticed in several competitive exams. Hence it is still relevant for the aspirants.

Also read

Fastags

  • As per Central Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, since 1st December 2017, the FASTag had been made mandatory for all registered new four-wheelers and is being supplied by the Vehicle Manufacturer or their dealers.
  • It has been mandated that the renewal of fitness certificate will be done only after the fitment of FASTag.
  • For National Permit Vehicles, the fitment of FASTag was mandated since 1st October 2019.

What is ‘FASTag’?

  • FASTags are stickers that are affixed to the windscreen of vehicles and use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to enable digital, contactless payment of tolls without having to stop at toll gates.
  • The tags are linked to bank accounts and other payment methods.
  • As a car crosses a toll plaza, the amount is automatically deducted, and a notification is sent to the registered mobile phone number.

How does it work?

  • The device employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for payments directly from the prepaid or savings account linked to it.
  • It is affixed on the windscreen, so the vehicle can drive through plazas without stopping.
  • RFID technology is similar to that used in transport access-control systems, like Metro smart card.
  • If the tag is linked to a prepaid account like a wallet or a debit/credit card, then owners need to recharge/top up the tag.
  • If it is linked to a savings account, then money will get deducted automatically after the balance goes below a pre-defined threshold.
  • Once a vehicle crosses the toll, the owner will get an SMS alert on the deduction. In that, it is like a prepaid e-wallet.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

Places in news: Zojila Tunnel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Zojila Pass

Mains level : Road infrastructure in Himalayas

Union Transport Ministry has launched the first blasting for construction-related work at the Zojila tunnel that will provide all-year connectivity between Srinagar valley and Leh.

These days various Himalayan passes and tunnels are overwhelmingly seen in news. Open your Atlas and try to spot all of them for now and once before the exam.

Zojila Tunnel

  • The Zojila is set to be Asia’s longest bi-directional tunnel.
  • It will connect Srinagar, Dras, Kargil and Leh via a tunnel through the famous Zojila Pass.
  • Located at more than 11,500 feet above sea level, the all-weather Zojila tunnel will be 14.15 km long and ensure road connectivity even during winters.
  • It will make the travel on the 434-km Srinagar-Kargil-Leh Section of NH-1 free from avalanches, enhance safety and reduce the travel time from more than 3 hours to just 15 minutes.
  • The speed limit inside the tunnel is likely to be the same as in the Atal tunnel – 80 kmph.

Its significance

  • The project holds strategic significance as Zojila Pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway and remains closed during winters due to heavy snowfall.
  • At present, it is one of the most dangerous stretches in the world to drive a vehicle and this project is also geo-strategically sensitive.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

Kozhikode-Wayanad Tunnel Project

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the Tunnel, EIA

Mains level : NA

Kerala CM has launched a tunnel road project that would connect Kozhikode with Wayanad.

Try this PYQ:

Q.From the ecological point of view, which one of the following assumes importance in being a good link between the Eastern Ghats and the Western Ghats?

(a) Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve

(b) Nallamala Forest

(c) Nagarhole National Park

(d) Seshachalam Biosphere Reserve

Kozhikode-Wayanad Tunnel Project

  • The 7-km tunnel, being described as the third-longest in the country, is part of an 8-km road cutting through sensitive forests and hills of the Western Ghats.
  • Its endpoints are at Maripuzha in Thiruvambady village panchayat (Kozhikode) and Kalladi in Meppadi panchayat (Wayanad).
  • The tunnel is an outcome of a decades-long campaign for an alternative road as the Thamarassery Ghat Road is congested and gets blocked by landslides during heavy monsoon.

How will the road impact the ecology?

  • The Forest Department has identified the proposed route as a highly sensitive patch comprising evergreen and semi-evergreen forests, marshlands and shola tracts.
  • This region is part of an elephant corridor spread between Wayanad and Nilgiri Hills in Tamil Nadu.
  • Two major rivers, Chaliyar and Kabani that flows to Karnataka, originate from these hills in Wayanad.
  • Eruvazhanjipuzha, a tributary of Chaliyar and the lifeline of settlements in Malappuram and Kozhikode, begins in the other side of the hills.
  • The region, known for torrential rain during the monsoon, has witnessed several landslides, including in 2019 at Kavalappura near Nilambur and at Puthumala, Meppadi in Wayanad.

Environmental clearance issues

  • Proponents of the project have been stressing that the tunnel will not destroy forest (trees).
  • The MoEFCC guidelines state that the Forest Act would apply not only to surface area but the entire underground area beneath the trees.
  • For tunnel projects, conditions relating to underground mining would be applicable.
  • As the proposed tunnel is 7 km long, it will require emergency exit points and air ventilation wells among other measures, which would impact the forest further.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

ATAL: World’s Longest Highway Tunnel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Atal Tunnel

Mains level : Significance of the Border Infrastructure

PM Modi has inaugurated the Atal Tunnel at Rohtang at an altitude of above 3,000 metres in Himachal Pradesh.

Refer this link to read more about Himalayan passes and rivers

https://www.civilsdaily.com/the-northern-and-northeastern-mountains-part-1/

Atal Tunnel

  • The 9.02 km-long-tunnel, built by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), is the world’s longest highway tunnel and connects Manali to Lahaul-Spiti valley.
  • It provides all-weather connectivity to the landlocked valley of Lahaul-Spiti, which remains cut-off for nearly six months in a year as the Rohtang Pass is usually snow-bound between November and April.
  • Before the tunnel construction, the Lahaul Valley used to remain closed for vehicular movement due to bad weather conditions.
  • It reduces the distance by 46 km between Manali and Leh and the travel time by about 4 to 5 hours. It is expected to boost tourism and winter sports in the region.
  • The tunnel, also significant from the military logistics viewpoint, will provide better connectivity to the armed forces in reaching Ladakh.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

Atal Tunnel at Rohtang

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Atal Tunnel, Pir Panjal Range

Mains level : Not Much

The Atal Tunnel at Rohtang, near Manali, is almost complete in all respects and will be inaugurated very soon in September.

Tap to read more about Himalayas at:

https://www.civilsdaily.com/the-northern-and-northeastern-mountains-part-1/

Atal Tunnel

  • The 9-km-long tunnel is constructed under the Pir Panjal range.
  • It has been named after former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and will be the world’s longest highway tunnel above the altitude of 10,000 feet (3000 metres).
  • It was scheduled to be completed by May 2020, in a revised estimate, but the Covid-19 pandemic pushed back the completion by a few months due to lockdown conditions.
  • Vehicles can travel at a maximum speed of 80 km per hour. Up to 1,500 trucks and 3,000 cars are expected to use it per day when the situation gets to normal.

What is its strategic advantage?

  • Cutting through the Pir Panjal range, the tunnel will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km.
  • The tunnel will provide almost all-weather connectivity to the troops stationed in Ladakh.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

River Ropeway over Brahmaputra

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Brahmaputra Ropeway

Mains level : Not Much

 India’s ‘longest’ river ropeway across the Brahmaputra River was unveiled in Guwahati.

Navigate to this page for more readings on Brahmaputra River systems:

Brahmaputra River System

Brahmaputra Ropeway

  • The 1.82 km bi-cable jig-back ropeway connects the southern bank of the Brahmaputra and a hillock behind the Doul Govinda temple in North Guwahati on the other.
  • It passes over the mid-river Peacock Island that houses Umananda, a medieval Shiva temple.
  • It thus cuts travel time between the two banks to 8 minutes.
  • The current travel options between the two banks are by ferry (30 minutes or more, depending on current and season) or by road through a bridge that usually takes over an hour in the traffic.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

[pib] Kailash – Mansarovar Yatra Route from Dharchula to Lipulekh

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various passes in news, BRO

Mains level : India's border connectivity and the role of BRO

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has completed the construction of road from Dharchula to Lipulekh along the China Border, famously known as Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra Route.

We can expect a prelims question asking to arrange few passes from West to East or vice versa. Click here to get through all such Himalayan Passes.

Darchula – Lipulekh road

  • The road is an extension of Pithoragarh-Tawaghat-Ghatiabagarh road. In this 80 Km road, the altitude rises from 6000 feet to 17,060 feet.
  • It originates from Ghatiabagarh in Uttarakhand and terminates at Lipulekh Pass, the gateway to Kailash Mansarovar.
  • With the completion of this project, the arduous trek through treacherous high-altitude terrain can now be avoided by the Pilgrims of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and the period of journey will be reduced by many days.

(Note: The Lipulekh Pass links Uttarakhand with China’s Tibetan Autonomous Region.)

Significance

  • At present, the travel to Kailash Mansarovar takes around two to three weeks through Sikkim or Nepal routes.
  • Lipulekh route had a trek of 90 Km through high altitude terrain and the elderly yartris faced lot of difficulties.
  • Now, this yatra will get completed by vehicles.

Also read:

The Northern and Northeastern Mountains | Part 2


Back2Basics: Border Roads Organisation (BRO)

  • The BRO develops and maintains road networks in India’s border areas and friendly neighboring countries and functions under the Ministry of Defence.
  • It is entrusted for construction of Roads, Bridges, Tunnels, Causeways, Helipads and Airfields along the borders.
  • Officers from the Border Roads Engineering Service (BRES) and personnel from the General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) form the parent cadre of the Border Roads Organisation.
  • It is also staffed by officers and troops drawn from the Indian Army’s Corps of Engineers on extra regimental employment.
  • The BRO operates and maintains over 32,885 kilometers of roads and about 12,200 meters of permanent bridges in the country.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP)

Mains level : Read the attached story

  • To augment infrastructure and create jobs in the country, the government task force on National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), which in its report projected total investment of Rs 111 lakh crore in infra projects over five years.
  • It said that 18 per cent of the targeted investment is expected to be made in the road sector.

It is estimated that India would need to spend $4.5 trillion on infrastructure by 2030 to sustain its growth rate. The endeavour of the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), is to make this happen in an efficient manner.

What is the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP)?

  • NIP includes economic and social infrastructure projects.
  • During the fiscals 2020 to 2025, sectors such as Energy (24%), Roads (19%), Urban (16%), and Railways (13%) amount to around 70% of the projected capital expenditure in infrastructure in India.
  • It has outlined plans to invest more than ₹102 lakh crore on infrastructure projects by 2024-25, with the Centre, States and the private sector to share the capital expenditure in a 39:39:22 formula.

Key benefits of NIP

  • Economic: Well-planned NIP will enable more infra projects, grow businesses, create jobs, improve ease of living, and provide equitable access to infrastructure for all, making growth more inclusive.
  • Government: Well-developed infrastructure enhances the level of economic activity, creates additional fiscal space by improving the revenue base of the government, and ensures the quality of expenditure focused in productive areas.
  • Developers: Provides a better view of project supply, provides time to be better prepared for project bidding, reduces aggressive bids/ failure in project delivery, ensures enhanced access to sources of finance as a result of increased investor confidence.
  • Banks/financial institutions (F1s)/investors: Builds investor confidence as identified projects are likely to be better prepared, exposures less likely to suffer stress given active project monitoring, thereby less likelihood of NPAs.

Projects include

  • The report contains recommendations on general and sector reforms relating to key infrastructure sectors for implementation by the Centre and states.
  • These projects will be implemented under the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), a first of its kind exercise, by consulting states, relevant ministries and departments.
  • Three committees will be set up to monitor project progress, eliminate delays, and find ways to raise resources, along with a steering committee in each of the infrastructure ministries.
  • Sectors such as energy (24%), roads (18%), urban (17%) and railways (12%) amount to around 71% of the projected investments.
  • The projects will also be spread across sectors such as irrigation, mobility, education, health, water and the digital sector.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

Rohtang Pass and its location

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various passes in news, BRO

Mains level : NA

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has opened the Rohtang Pass, three weeks in advance, for transporting essential supplies and relief materials to Lahaul and Spiti districts of Himachal Pradesh.

 Rohtang Pass

  • It is a high mountain pass (elevation 3,980 m) on the eastern Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas around 51 km from Manali.
  • It connects the Kullu Valley with the Lahaul and Spiti Valleys of Himachal Pradesh, India.
  • The pass lies on the watershed between the Chenab and Beas basins.
  • On the southern side of this pass, the Beas River emerges from underground and flows southward and on its northern side, the Chandra River, a source stream of the river Chenab, flows westward.

Another pass in new:

Sela Pass Tunnel Project

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

Agartala-Akhaura Railway Link

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Agartala-Akhaura Link

Mains level : Railway connectivity in NE states

 

The landmark Agartala-Akhaura railway line to connect the northeastern region with Bangladesh is expected to be ready by the end of 2021.

About Agartala-Akhaura Link

  • MoU for Indo-Bangla Railway connectivity project viz. Agartala-Akhaura new Broad Gauge line (15.06 Km) was signed on 16.02.2013 between India and Bangladesh.
  • The link will connect Gangasagar in Bangladesh to Nischintapur in India and from there to Agartala.
  • The Project was at standstill because of the sharp increase in the cost of land for the sections in India.
  • The Railway Ministry would bear the cost of laying the 5.46-km track on the Indian side and the cost of the 10.6-km track on the Bangladesh side was being borne by the Ministry of External Affairs.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

[pib] Draft National Logistics Policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Logistics Policy

Mains level : Logistics sector of India

The Union Minister of Commerce and Industry reviewed the draft National Logistics Policy and the proposed action plan for implementation of the policy prepared by the Department of Logistics, Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The key feature of the draft policy

  • The draft National Logistics Policy has been prepared in consultation with the Ministries of Railways, Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Civil Aviation.
  • Forty-six Partnering Government Agencies (PGAs)
  • Inputs were analysed in detail for consideration in the Policy.
  • Vision and Objectives for Logistics in India: To drive economic growth and trade competitiveness of the country through a truly integrated, seamless, efficient, reliable and cost-effective logistics network, leveraging best in class technology, processes and skilled manpower.
  • Key objectives of the national logistics policy:  Given the pivotal role of the logistics sector in the development of the economy and the need to incorporate learnings from global best practices, the policy outlines an ambitious set of objectives.

The following are some of the key objectives for logistics in India, to be achieved in the next five years:

1. Creating a single point of reference for all logistics and trade facilitation matters in the country which will also function as a knowledge and information sharing platform

2. Driving logistics cost as a % of GDP down from estimated current levels of 13-14% to 10% in line with best-in-class global standards and incentivize the sector to become more efficient by promoting integrated development of logistics

Objectives of the Logistics Policy

  • Creating a National Logistics e-marketplace as a one-stop marketplace. It will involve simplification of documentation for exports/imports and drive transparency through digitization of processes involving Customs, PGAs etc in regulatory, certification and compliance services
  • Creating a data and analytics centre to drive transparency and continuous monitoring of key logistics metrics
  • Encouraging industry, academia and government to come together to create a logistics Center of Excellence, and drive innovation in the logistics sector
  • Creating and managing on an ongoing basis, an Integrated National Logistics Action Plan which will serve as a master plan for all logistics-related development.
  • Providing an impetus to trade and hence economic growth by driving competitiveness in exports
  • Doubling employment in the logistics sector by generating additional 10-15 million jobs and focus on enhancing skills in the sector and encouraging gender diversity
  • Improve India’s ranking in the Logistics Performance Index to between 25 to 30
  • Strengthening the warehousing sector in India by improving the quality of storage infrastructure including specialized warehouses across the country
  • Reducing losses due to agri-wastage to less than 5% through effective agri-logistics
  • Providing impetus to the MSME sector in the country through a cost-effective logistics network
  • Promoting cross-regional trade on e-commerce platforms by enabling a seamless flow of goods
  • Encouraging the adoption of green logistics in the country

Policy thrust areas

This policy defines the key thrust areas for logistics in India, which will be the focus of the relevant ministries as well as act as guidance to the state governments. The prioritized focus areas for logistics are detailed below:

  • Focusing on critical projects to drive an optimal modal mix and to enable first mile and last-mile connectivity
  • Driving the development of Multi-Modal Logistics Parks (MMLPs)
  • Driving interventions to reduce logistics cost and promote logistics efficiency for movement of key commodities
  • Creating a single-window Logistics e-marketplace
  • Setting up a Logistics Data and Analytics Center
  • Creating a Center of Trade facilitation and Logistics excellence (CTFL) and leveraging the expertise of multilateral agencies
  • Creating an Integrated National Logistics Action Plan and align with respective state development plans
  • Support strengthening of the warehousing sector
  • Enhancing transport and rolling stock infrastructure
  • Streamlining EXIM processes to promote trade competitiveness
  • Reducing dwell time for interstate cargo movement by road
  • Promoting standardization in the logistics sector
  • Ensuring seamless movement of goods at Land Customs Stations (LCS) and Integrated Check Points (ICP)
  • Generating employment, enhancing skilling and encouraging gender diversity in the logistics sector
  • Setting up a Startup acceleration fund

Funding for logistics initiatives

A non-lapsable Logistics fund will be created, to drive progress against the key thrust areas. The Logistics fund can be deployed for the following

  • Providing viability gap funding for select MMLP projects, first and last-mile projects and projects for poorly-serviced remote areas.
  • Incentivizing select logistics skilling programs and training institutes
  • Setting up a start-up acceleration fund to incentivize the development of new technology in logistics particularly the farm to plate space
  • Creating the Center for Trade Facilitation and Logistics Excellence (CTFL)  Setting up a big data-enabled logistics data hub and analytics centre
  • Creating a single-window logistics e-marketplace

Institutional Framework & Governance for Logistics

For this purpose, four committees/councils will be constituted:

  • National Council for Logistics, chaired by the Prime Minister
  • Apex inter-ministerial Committee, chaired by the Minister of Commerce and Industry
  • India Logistics Forum chaired by the Commerce Secretary with representation from key industry/business stakeholders and academia.
  • Empowered task force on logistics will be created, as a standing committee chaired by the head of the Logistics Wing.

 

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Infrastructure Pipeline

Mains level : $5 trillion economy: Prospects and Challenges

Union Finance Minister has unveiled Rs 102 lakh crore of infrastructure projects, under National Infrastructure Pipeline. It will be implemented in the next five years as part of the government’s spending push in the infrastructure sector.

What is the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP)?

  • NIP includes economic and social infrastructure projects.
  • During the fiscals 2020 to 2025, sectors such as Energy (24%), Roads (19%), Urban (16%), and Railways (13%) amount to around 70% of the projected capital expenditure in infrastructure in India.
  • It has outlined plans to invest more than ₹102 lakh crore on infrastructure projects by 2024-25, with the Centre, States and the private sector to share the capital expenditure in a 39:39:22 formula.

Key benefits of NIP

  • Economic: Well-planned NIP will enable more infra projects, grow businesses, create jobs, improve ease of living, and provide equitable access to infrastructure for all, making growth more inclusive.
  • Government: Well-developed infrastructure enhances the level of economic activity, creates additional fiscal space by improving the revenue base of the government, and ensures the quality of expenditure focused in productive areas.
  • Developers: Provides a better view of project supply, provides time to be better prepared for project bidding, reduces aggressive bids/ failure in project delivery, ensures enhanced access to sources of finance as a result of increased investor confidence.
  • Banks/financial institutions (F1s)/investors: Builds investor confidence as identified projects are likely to be better prepared, exposures less likely to suffer stress given active project monitoring, thereby less likelihood of NPAs.

Is NIP a road to $5 trillion economy?

  • Finance minister said that the Rs 102 lakh crore National Infrastructure Projects will help make India a $5 trillion economy by 2025.
  • These projects are on top of Rs 51 lakh crore spent by the Centre and the states during the last six years.
  • The new pipeline consists of 39 per cent projects each by the Centre and states and the balance by 22 per cent by private sector.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

Explained: FASTags

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RFID technology

Mains level : FASTags


From December 1, lanes on NH toll plazas across India will accept toll only through FASTag. One hybrid lane will continue to accept cash in addition to being tag-enabled.

What is ‘FASTag’?

  • FASTags are stickers that are affixed to the windscreen of vehicles and use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to enable digital, contactless payment of tolls without having to stop at toll gates.
  • The tags are linked to bank accounts and other payment methods.
  • As a car crosses a toll plaza, the amount is automatically deducted, and a notification is sent to the registered mobile phone number.

How does it work?

  • The device employs Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for payments directly from the prepaid or savings account linked to it.
  • It is affixed on the windscreen, so the vehicle can drive through plazas without stopping.
  • RFID technology is similar to that used in transport access-control systems, like Metro smart card.
  • If the tag is linked to a prepaid account like a wallet, or a debit/credit card, then owners need to recharge/top up the tag.
  • If it is linked to a savings account, rthen money will get deducted automatically after the balance goes below a pre-defined threshold.
  • Once a vehicle crosses the toll, the owner will get an SMS alert on the deduction. In that it is like a prepaid e-wallet.

How can one buy it?

  • E-commerce portals like Amazon and PayTM sell these tags issued by various banks.
  • Places, where these counters are set up, include Road Transport Authority offices, transport hubs, bank branches, and selected petrol pumps.
  • A FASTag bought from NHAI comes with a one-time fee of Rs 100 besides a refundable security deposit of Rs 150.
  • Apart from the currently free tags at NHAI booths, there is also a cashback of 2.5 per cent on FASTag transactions as an offer.
  • In the tag taken from NHAI, the Rs 150 security deposit, which the government is bearing as a promotion, comes back to the user as wallet value if the FASTag is linked to the NHAI e-wallet in the “My FASTag app” mobile app.
  • So in this particular scheme, the user gets Rs 150 back without even paying it.

Penalties

  • A FASTag is valid for five years, and can be recharged as and when required.
  • Vehicles entering FASTag lanes without FASTag will be charged twice the toll amount.

Will those living close to toll roads not end up paying more frequently?

  • As per a government notification, users living within 10 km of a toll plaza can avail a concession on toll to be paid via FASTag.
  • They need to submit proof of residence and nearest point-of-sale location to validate.
  • Once the address is verified, the concession is ensured via FASTag affixed on the vehicle.

Is it working smoothly?

  • The tags sold by banks are not “bank-neutral”.
  • A FASTag bought from one bank can be recharged through that particular bank only and not through other banks.
  • However, tags sold/distributed by NHAI are bank-neutral as one can use any bank account to recharge/top up the value in the tag.

What about state highways?

  • Under a new “One Nation One FASTag” scheme, the NHAI is trying to get states on board so that one tag can be used seamlessly across highways, irrespective of whether it is the state or the Centre that owns/manages it.
  • Recently as part of a pilot, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Haryana signed MoUs with the Centre to accept FASTags in state highways also.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

Imphal to Mandalay flight service

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the flight

Mains level : Infrastructure facilities in NE India

Myanmar’s private airlines Air KBZ kicked off a chartered flight service from Manipur’s state capital Imphal to Myanmar’s second-largest city Mandalay.

About the flight service

  • The service is a chartered flight service.
  • Once it is regularised, then pricing and ticketing will become standardised.
  • Imphal will become an important part of the international travel route.

What is the importance of this flight service?

  • Mandalay is an important economic centre of Myanmar and the flight service is said to be benefiting both traders and tourists.
  • The service is expected to transform the transportation network through Northeast India and boost the regional economy.

Other sources of connectivity to SE

  • This year, Assam rolled out flight services from Guwahati to Bangkok and Dhaka.
  • Guwahati is also connected to Paro in Bhutan.
  • Government plans to connect Guwahati to capitals of other ASEAN countries soon by air.
  • Manipur is already connected to Myanmar by road, as is Bangladesh to Meghalaya and Tripura.
  • India’s access to Bangladesh’s Chittagong port via Tripura is in the pipeline, so is the completion of the Agartala-Akhaura international railway project that will connect Bangladesh railway track with North-East Frontier Railways.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

Rohtang Tunnel

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Rohang Tunnel

Mains level : Significance of the tunnel


The Rohtang Tunnel will become the world’s longest highway tunnel above 10,000 feet, after its inauguration in Sept 2020.

Rohtang Tunnel

  • Rohtang Tunnel is a highway tunnel being built under the Rohtang Pass in the eastern Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas on the Leh-Manali Highway.
  • At 8.8 km length, the tunnel will be one of the longest road tunnels in India and is expected to reduce the distance between Manali and Keylong by about 46 km.
  • For now, the tunnel provides a temporary winter link to the outside world not only to residents of Lahaul and Spiti but also to those living in Zanskar Valley of Ladakh.
  • While Rohtang Pass is at a height of 13,050 feet, the pass on the road to Leh is Baralacha La at 16,040 feet.
  • An alternate road link to Ladakh has also been developed by BRO on the Darcha-Padam-Nimu axis, but here again a 4.15-km long tunnel at Sinka La Pass (16,703 feet) would be required for all-weather access.

Why delay?

  • It would have been completed at least four years earlier, but for a massive torrent of water encountered inside the tunnel.
  • The Seri Nullah, which flows on top of the tunnel, almost threatened to derail the project and it took several years to devise ways to tackle the massive flow of water that often went up to 140 litres per second.

Significance

  • The project also has significant strategic implications for the military as it will allow access beyond Rohtang Pass even in peak winters.
  • All-winter connectivity to Ladakh, however, is still some time away as more tunnels will have to be built to tackle the high passes which fall beyond Rohtang.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

[pib] First ever movement of container cargo on Brahmaputra (NW -2)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NW-2

Mains level : Infrastructure facilities in NE India


  • The first cargo consignment will sail on National Waterway-2 from Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) to Pandu in Guwahati.

NW-2

  • National Waterway 2 (NW-2) is a section of the Brahmaputra River having a length of 891 km between the Bangladesh border near Dhubri and Sadiya in Assam.
  • It was declared as NW No. 2 on 1 September 1988.
  • It has only one fixed terminals namely the Pandu Port while rest are floating which include Dhubri Port, Jogighopa, Tezpur, Silghat, Dibrugarh, Jamuguri, Bogibil, Saikhowa and Sadiya

Some facts

  • NW-1 has witnessed healthy growth with the augmentation of navigation capacity of Ganga under Jal Marg Vikas Project.
  • The traffic on NW-1 has grown from 5.48 million tonnes in 2017-18 to 6.79 million tonnes in 2018-19.
  • Out of the total traffic of 6.79 million tonnes on NW-1, approximately 3.15 million tonnes is the EXIM trade between India and Bangladesh using the Indo Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes.

What is the Indo Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route?

  • The Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) between India and Bangladesh allows mutually beneficial arrangements for the use of their waterways for movement of goods vessels of both countries.
  • The IBP route extends from Kolkata (India) on NW-1 to Silghat (Assam) on NW-2 (River Brahmaputra) and Karimganj (Assam) on NW-16 (River Barak).
  • In addition to the above, India and Bangladesh have taken major steps to enhance utilization of waterways in the recent past.
  • An SOP to facilitate the movement of goods to and from India through Chittagong and Mongla Ports in Bangladesh has been signed by the two countries on 5th October 2019.
  • The proximity of these two ports will reduce logistics cost and improve trade competitiveness of North East states.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

Chenani Nashari Tunnel renamed after Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Chenani Nashari Tunnel

Mains level : Not Much


  • Union Ministry for Road Transport & Highways announced renaming of Chenani Nashri Tunnel on NH 44 in Jammu & Kashmir as Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Tunnel.

Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Tunnel

  • This 9 km tunnel is the longest such state of art tunnel in the country, connecting Udhampur to Ramban in Jammu.
  • The key features of the tunnel are — it is a single-tube bi-directional tunnel, with a 9.35-metre carriageway, and a vertical clearance of 5 metres.
  • It cuts down 31 km of travel distance and reduces the travel time between the two points by about two hours, in addition to substantial saving in fuel cost.
  • There is also a parallel escape tunnel, with ‘Cross Passages’ connecting to the main tunnel at intervals of 300 metres.
  • It also has smart features such as an integrated traffic control system; surveillance, ventilation and broadcast systems; fire fighting system; and SOS call-boxes at every 150 metres.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

One Nation One FASTag Scheme

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : RFID technology

Mains level : One Nation One FASTag Scheme


  • Minister of Road Transport and Highways inaugurated the scheme.

One Nation One FASTag scheme

  • The ‘One Nation One FASTag’ scheme will be implemented from December 1.
  • The plan aims to integrate the collection of toll digitally and ensure seamless mobility of vehicles across India.
  • It can be availed upon activation by new cars having Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on national and state highways throughout the country.

Why such scheme?

  • At present, 60 lakh vehicles in India have FASTags.
  • According to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), these devices will make passing through tolls considerably smoother since drivers will no longer have to carry cash or stop to make a transaction.

What is ‘FASTag’?

  • FASTags are stickers that are affixed to the windscreen of vehicles and use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to enable digital, contactless payment of tolls without having to stop at toll gates.
  • The tags are linked to bank accounts and other payment methods.
  • As a car crosses a toll plaza, the amount is automatically deducted, and a notification is sent to the registered mobile phone number.
  • Sensors are placed on toll barriers, and the barriers open for vehicles having valid FASTags.
  • A FASTag is valid for five years and needs to be recharged only as per requirement.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

[op-ed snap] Taken for a ride: on India’s gender-blind transport system

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Need for gender sensitive public transport

CONTEXT

A 2010 report by New-Delhi based NGO Jagori revealed that 51% of women in the capital faced harassment inside public transport, and another 42% while waiting for public transport.

Ola’s survey ahead of International Women’s Day 2019, highlighted how only 9% of the surveyed women commuters in the country felt safe in public transport, but still used it due to the lack of other options. 

HOW TO MAKE PUBLIC TRANSPORT SAFE FOR ALL

  • Rope in traffic police at large bus depots, MRTC railway stations
  • Provide functional and responsive helplines
  • Ensure elevators and escalators are functional
  • Better footpaths and clean subways
  • Create safe and usable cycling tracks
  • Set up the gender advisory committee
  • Most importantly, educate and sensitize men

Problems

  1. As per a 2017 report by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, women may turn down better employment opportunities further away from home in favor of lower-paid local jobs when the public transport system is unreliable or unaffordable
  2. This holds true especially for those belonging to lower-income groups, thus impacting their access to better jobs, education and basic necessities
  3. The report also states that over 84% of trips by women are by the public, intermediate public and non-motorised modes of transport
  4. Efforts to improve our crumbling public transport systems — used by a majority of the population — haven’t been addressed.

Motor Vehicles Bill 2019

  1. The bill provides some relief to passengers as far as app-based taxi-hailing services go
  2. It gives power to the Centre to regulate these services and set ground rules on safety and surge pricing, and get them to invest in customer care teams 
  3. It points out issues of road safety, heftier fines for errant drivers, vehicle recall norms
  4. There’s no mention of better roads or infrastructure development

Unless we have gender-responsive plans for urban transport in place, our cities will be far from inclusive.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

National Warehousing Grid

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Warehousing Grid

Mains level : Need for National Warehousing Grid

  • The government is likely to introduce warehousing schemes at village and National level to build an efficient storage infrastructure.
  • A National Warehousing Grid along the National Highways may also be introduced in the Budget.

National Warehousing Grid

  • The Centre’s scheme aims at broad integration of the warehousing capacities in India.
  • Approximately 90% of the warehousing space is controlled by unorganised players, with small warehouses of less than 10,000 sq ft area.
  • An action plan has already been approved by the Centre on sectoral basis for the construction of steel silos with a capacity of 100 lakh metric tonnes in PPP mode for modernizing storage infrastructure and improving shelf life of stored food grains.

Why need such scheme?

  • Practically, much of the country’s warehousing capacity outside of the agri sector is in the unorganised sector, with small warehouses of less than 10,000 sq ft area.
  • Currently, of the total warehousing space of about 180 million sq ft in the country, the industrial segment accounts for about 86% and the agricultural sector the rest 14%, according to NITI statistics.
  • Two-thirds of the warehousing capacity in the food storage segment is owned by the public sector.
  • Apart from conventional storing services, India’s warehousing capacity is increasingly being used to offer value-added services such as the consolidation and breaking up of cargo, packaging, labelling, bar coding and reverse logistics.

Plugging deficiencies

  • The project is aimed at plugging deficiencies given that India’s current cold storage capacity at 25 MT is barely sufficient for 10% of the fruits and vegetables produced in the country.
  • The lack of adequate storage infrastructure is an important reason for the high cost of food products and wastage.
  • Nearly 60% of the modern warehousing capacity in India is concentrated in top six cities, namely Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi-NCR and Pune, with Hyderabad and Kolkata being the other major markets, according to Care Ratings.
  • This trend is driven by the concentration of industrial activity and presence of sizeable urban population around these clusters.

Beneficiaries

  • The prime beneficiaries of the new wave of growth in warehousing include peripheral locations of Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities.
  • Much of the fresh investments would go into creating storage facilities for retail and consumer goods.

Forthcoming challenges

  • The primary challenge that India’s warehousing market currently faces is acquisition of a feasible land parcel, given that land cost constitutes the largest component of a warehousing project.
  • While rental values that a warehouse owner can charge are primarily driven by demand and supply factors, land prices are inherently dependent on multiple factors like development control regulations, infrastructure development and the best alternative usage of land.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

National Freight Index (NFI)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : National Freight Index (NFI)

Mains level : Utility of NFI

  • In its bid to bring transparency in the road-freight marketplace, Gurgaon-based logistics start-up Rivigo has launched National Freight Index (NFI).

National Freight Index (NFI)

  • The NFI aims to provide live freight rates for different lanes and vehicles across the country.
  • It gives live spot rates on over 7 million lane and vehicle type combinations in the country.
  • It will bring a pricing transparency, in a system where the demand traditionally flows from transporters, brokers, fleet owners and then to drivers.
  • The actual freight rates are in Indian rupee per ton-km and in terms of relative movement with respect to a base month, and would be updated in real time.
  • It will also give historical spot price movements of the road freight industry.

How it’s computed?

  • Rivigo has adopted machine-learning and economics powered pricing algorithms.
  • The rates on the exchange and index are computed using millions of data points from historical transactions, current market dynamics, micro market insights and other factors.

Utility of NFI

  • The Indian road freight market size is estimated at $150 billion-$160 billion, of which $130 billion-$140 billion is full-truck load (FTL) market, but it has been facing a growing challenge of shortage of truck drivers.
  • There are high inefficiencies in the existing freight market, which leads to a great loss of value.
  • Nobody wants to be a truck driver anymore and the country could face a 50% shortage of truck drivers by 2023.
  • Logistics account for nearly 14% of India’s GDP and 70% of it comes from road transportation.
  • But, there is no pricing transparency and working conditions of drivers is deplorable.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

Traffic Index 2018

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : About the index

Mains level : Vehicular Traffic in India


  • A recent study has ranked Mumbai as the most traffic-congested city in the world for the second straight year, and Delhi at fourth place.

Traffic Index 2018

  • The findings published are part of the Traffic Index 2018 published by TomTom, an Amsterdam-based company.
  • It offers traffic solutions, uses location technology to collect traffic information, and has been publishing city rankings for eight years.
  • The index factors for peak hours, accidents, inclement weather, construction work and all other factors likely to cause disruptions.
  • The latest index ranks 403 cities across 56 countries, including 13 new cities.

Defining Congestion

  • For this study, congestion has been defined in terms of the additional time taken to reach a destination as opposed to when the road would have been clear of traffic.
  • Mumbai’s 2018 congestion level of of 65%, therefore, means that the extra travel time is 65% more than an average trip would take during uncongested conditions.
  • For Delhi, by the same yardstick, the extra travel time is 58% more.

Around the world

  • Nearly 75% of the cities part of the 2018 index had increased or stable congestion levels between 2017 and 2018, with only 90 cities showing measurable decreases, states the report.
  • Congestion in Jakarta, for example, decreased by 8 percentage points while that in Lima rose by the same number of points.

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

[op-ed snap] Highway hurdle: the Chennai-Salem corridor

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Bharatmala

Mains level : Projects are hurriedly being implemented without much concern for environment.

CONTEXT

The Madras High Court verdict quashing land acquisition proceedings for the proposed Chennai-Salem greenfield expressway is an indictment of the arbitrary decision-making process behind the project.

Impact of Court’s Verdict

  • The court has referred to how “peaceful protests were stifled, unwritten gag orders were promulgated, [and] police force was used to handle the peaceful protesters who were making a request to spare them and their lands”.
  • It was only after the court intervened that “these high-handed actions subsided”.
  • It invalidated the notification for intent to acquire land for the project on the ground that the National Highways Authority of India cannot acquire land without complying with the requirement of preparing an environment impact assessment report
  • Need For Environment Impact Assessment and clearance – The decision is important for affirming the principle that environmental clearance ought to be obtained before any project is allowed to advance to a stage where measures become irreversible.
  • It underscores that sufficient data on the possible harm to the environment is needed before resources are committed to a project.
  • In this case, not only would land titles be transferred to the state; heavy compensation amounts would also have been paid by the time the environmental impact is known.

Haste in implementing infra projects

  • The project was pushed by the Centre and the State even though it was set to pass through wetlands, fertile farmlands, reserve forests and waterbodies.
  • Farmers who stood to lose their land and environmentalists had questioned the claim that by reducing the transit time, there would be saving of fuel, thereby cutting the carbon footprint.
  • What has been exposed in the verdict is that the eight-lane corridor was never really cleared as a project under the Centre’s Bharatmala Pariyojana.
  • No deliberation on the project – It did not figure in the list of road projects approved under Bharatmala-I. The NHAI did not explain in its counter-affidavit how the Chennai-Madurai highway, an approved project, was dropped and the Chennai-Salem project included in its place.
  • The court examined the record and found that there was nothing to show that it was approved by either the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs or the Public-Private Partnership Appraisal Committee; the Chennai-Tiruchi-Madurai corridor had much higher vehicular traffic to justify its inclusion in Bharatmala.
  • The court’s conclusion that labelling its replacement by the Salem project as a ‘policy decision’ was not a sufficient explanation is unexceptionable.

Conclusion

Having failed to convince the court that the procedures it followed were above board, the least that the Centre can now do is to make a comprehensive study of its impact on the environment and on farming and rural livelihoods before moving ahead.

 

 

 

Roads, Highways, Cargo, Air-Cargo and Logistics infrastructure – Bharatmala, LEEP, SetuBharatam, etc.

National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NIIF

Mains level : Government initiatives for reviving infrastructure sector and providing required capital to the sector.

 News

  • Roadis, a private investor and operator of transport infrastructure worldwide and the National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) have jointly set up a platform to invest in road projects in India.

Platform for Road projects in India

  • The platform would invest up to $2 billion of equity targeting toll-operate-transfer models, acquisitions of existing road concessions and investment opportunities in the road sector.
  • With 710 km of highways under ownership and management, Roadis is one of the largest European highway concession managers in India.
  • Roadis is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Sector Pension Investment Board, one of Canada’s largest pension funds.

About NIIF

  1. National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF) is a fund created by the Government of India for enhancing infrastructure financing in the country.
  2. This is different from the National Investment Fund.
  3. Objective: to maximize economic impact mainly through infrastructure development in commercially viable projects, both greenfield and brownfield, including stalled projects.
  4. NIIF was proposed to be set up as a Trust, to raise debt to invest in the equity of infrastructure finance companies such as Indian Rail Finance Corporation (IRFC) and National Housing Bank (NHB).
  5. NIIF is envisaged as a fund of funds with the ability to make direct investments as required. As a fund of fund it may invest in other SEBI registered funds.
  6. The functions of NIIF are as follows:
  • Fund raising through suitable instruments including off-shore credit enhanced bonds, and attracting anchor investors to participate as partners in NIIF;
  • Servicing of the investors of NIIF.
  • Considering and approving candidate companies/institutions/ projects (including state entities) for investments and periodic monitoring of investments.
  • Investing in the corpus created by Asset Management Companies (AMCs) for investing in private equity.
  • Preparing a shelf of infrastructure projects and providing advisory service

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
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