New Delhi: The National Highways Authority of India, or NHAI, has started preliminary work on awarding its biggest contra-ct yet, worth Rs6,672 crore, for an expressway between Vadodara in Gujarat and Mumbai.
Gujarat is among the most industrialized states in the country and a major hub for petrochemical and chemical companies. Mumbai is the country’s financial and commercial capital and is also home to India’s busiest port. The Vadodara-Gujarat route is a busy one in terms of freight traffic.
Last year, NHAI awarded two contracts to IRB Infrastructure Developers Ltd and Larsen and Toubro Ltd (L&T) to upgrade stretches of highway between Bharuch and Surat and Vadodara and Baruch, respectively. These stretches are part of the existing highway between Mumbai and Vadodara that runs parallel to the proposed expressway.
Officials in NHAI admit that traffic on the route is growing at a scorching pace.
“We were always aware that an expressway would be built between Mumbai and Vadodara,” said V.D. Mhaiskar, chairman and managing director of IRB Infrastructure.
The expressway itself will be 400km long and will cost around Rs16.68 crore per km. The largest contract awarded before this by NHAI was for Rs2,500 crore to build a highway between Panipat and Jalandhar, according to A.V. Sinha, member (technical), NHAI.
NHAI, the regulator for the Indian highways sector and the entity responsible for the award of contracts to build roads, will appoint a consultant for the project and decide on other contours of the expressway by July. The call for bids will come after that and the expressway is expected to be completed by 2015.
As is the case with most NHAI projects, the expressway will be built on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis wh-ere a private developer builds the road, operates it for a certain period, and then transfers ownership to the state.
“The expressway will charge around 30% more in toll rates and, so, not all vehicles would shift to the expressway (from the highway),” said Sinha.
The stretches owned by the IRB and L&T consortia are currenly being upgraded and are expected to be completed by July 2009.
“There is a revenue share agreement between NHAI and us that if traffic exceeds 108,000 vehicles per day, we share that with the authority. By the time this expressway is built, we would have reached that mark,” Mhaiskar said.
Mhaiskar estimated current traffic in the Bharuch-Surat stretch at between 60,000 and 70,000 vehicles per day.