The construction of roads at all levels in NER is of the highest priority to the Central and State Governments. A massive programme of road construction and improvement has been taken up by the Government for NER from different sources. A rough estimate indicates that the likely allocation on the construction of roads in the eight States of the NE may vary between `26,000cr to `31,000cr in the coming year.
Roads are funded at different levels and by a plethora of Departments and Ministries of State and Central Government for NER. The various categories of roads in the region are: National Highway, State Highway, Major District Roads, Other District Roads, Rural Roads, Forest Roads, Urban Roads, Border Roads, General Staff (GS) Roads, Strategic Roads. The organizations that are involved in funding/constructing/ maintaining roads are numerous as are the schemes and projects under which these are done.
Under Ministry of Road Transport and Highways
? National Highways (NH)
? Maintenance & Repairs of NH
? Central Road Fund for State Roads
? Inter State Connectivity
? Roads of Economic Importance
? Special Accelerated Road Development Programme for North Eastern Region (SARDP-NE)
? Arunachal Package of Roads
Under Ministry of Rural Development
? Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA)
? Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)
? Roads funded by NABARD
? Agriculture Link Roads
Under Ministry of DONER
? North Eastern Council (NEC)
? Non-Lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR)
Under Ministry of Urban Development
? Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM)
? Urban infrastructure Development Scheme for Small & Medium Towns
? Integrated Development of Small & Medium Towns (IDSMT)
? Lumpsum Provision for the Projects/Schemes for the Benefit of North Eastern Region and Sikkim
? Additional/Central Assistance
? Special Packages for different areas
? Roads from State Government?s own budget
? Roads being constructed by Autonomous District Councils, Zila Parishads
Ministry of Defence
? Strategic Roads by BRO
Ministry of Home Affairs
? Border Area Development Project (BADP)
? Hill Area Development Project (HADP)
? Border Roads
Ministry of Panchayati Raj
? Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF)
In addition, there would be other organizations/Ministries/Departments that may be funding roads as part of projects.
The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has initiated mega road development programme in NE?Special Accelerated Road Development Programme in North East (SARDP-NE). The objectives of SARDP-NE are:
? Upgrading National Highways connecting State Capitals to 2/ 4 lane
? Providing connectivity of all 88 District Headquarter towns of NER by at least 2-lane road
? Improving roads of strategic importance in border area
? Improving connectivity to neighbouring countries
The SARDP-NE programme has been divided into three parts viz. Phase ?A?, Arunachal Pradesh Package of Roads and Highways (Arunachal Package), and Phase ?B?.
Details of approvals (as on March 2012) and the State-wise distribution of roads is given in the tables.
Special Needs and Strategies for the North East Region
Roads are the principal modes of transport in the NE Region. The share of road transport would be well over 90 percent in the total movement by surface transport in the Region. It needs to be recognised that construction cost per kilometre is maximum whereas possibility of private financing is minimal and resources available with the NE states is low.
The states may need support to undertake a special programme of IRQP (Improvement in Riding Quality Programme) on the lines of National Highways. Another problem unique to the NE region is the presence of a number of semi-permanent timber bridges. An accelerated program of replacing these bridges is to be implemented. Safety also needs to be enhanced by taking several engineering measures.
The State Public Works Departments (PWDs) are responsible for policy, planning, design, construction and maintenance of state roads. They lack exposure to good practices in other states of the country and outside and need training. Though DONER has provided good support in this direction, a lot still needs to happen. There are no state level or regional level training centres except for Assam where the state level road research laboratory is being refurbished and strengthened for training of PWD personnel. There is also a need to develop core faculty from within the Region also for which a scheme of training the trainers should be prepared and implemented.
The concerned road agency should be made responsible for the planning, delivery, evaluation, monitoring and improvement with specific focus to road safety. For this purpose, it is of utmost importance that necessary institutional arrangements be developed within a fixed time frame. The support for good road construction machinery is also required for enhancing the productivity of the works. The technologies that are suitable for the region need to be brought, demonstrated, supported and adopted with full institutional support.
CSIR-CRRI and North-East Region
CSIR-Central Road Research Institute, established in 1952 as a premier laboratory of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, is based in New Delhi. The mandate of CSIR-CRRI has been to provide techno-economic solutions to the diverse technical problems faced by the profession, in the area of roads and road transport through R&D and consultancy services. CSIR-CRRI plays an important role in road and transport sector in the country by establishing standards and specifications through IRC, BIS etc.
CSIR-CRRI has carried out many projects for north-eastern states, particularly related to those on soil erosion and landslides, maintenance of roads, performance monitoring of bridges etc. In Arunachal Pradesh, Cationic Bituminous Emulsion was evaluated and in Assam, cold mix technology and microsurfacing was demonstrated. In Meghalaya, projects on strengthening of existing airfield pavements at Airforce Station Jorhat; load test on bridge on Agartala-Shillong Road; and pavement investigations on Tina-Phulbai-Mehdipai Road, Nongstoin Ranjeng Road were carried out. In Mizoram, transport economic feasibility study for Kawsthah-Kanhmum-Lower Pu Road; landslide investigation at km 45 on NH-150; and condition survey of Mizoram State Roads Network was carried out. Transportation planning studies for the city of Aizwal was also done way back in 1970. Landslide investigations were also carried out in Nagaland and Sikkim. In Tripura, investigations for four roads were made. Performance study of these projects reveals that the solutions and remedial measures provided were suitable enough to overcome the problems. There have been innumerable training programmes that were organised by CSIR-CRRI in the region. These had been designed for the specific requirements of the field engineers and departments. The training programmes for different States of the north-east region have disseminated the knowledge and technological prowess amongst the engineers.
The projects executed by CSIR-CRRI for the region has contributed immensely to the profession which can be seen by the confidence of the engineering fraternity for the scientists of the Institute. We can easily expect that the association of CSIR-CRRI with various departments of the region will grow in future, making the best use of new and better technologies for the road development of the region.
Technology Management Initiatives
In the spirit of reaching out to the region, CSIR-CRRI reaches out to its sister lab CSIR-North East Institute of Science & Technology (NEIST), Jorhat (Assam) (Formerly RRL, Jorhat) and made it its Node for the region through executing an MoU. It strengthened its civil engineering division through manpower and technical support. It also had an MoU with ERD Foundation based at Guwahati which has a good reach amongst professionals and students alike. The objective is to reach out to larger audience to disseminate the benefits of better technologies, which will also contribute in technology benchmarking for the profession.
Recently it also had an MoU with the Federation of Industry & Commerce of North Eastern Region (FINER) which is a leading non-profit Industry and Commerce body working for the economic and infrastructure development of the North East region through participation in developing of favourable industrial and infrastructure policies. It will help in relating the requirements of the industry with the need of research and technological solutions thereby supporting and promoting industries, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME). The objective of bringing out a white paper on Construction and Maintenance Industry in North Eastern region is to help the region. The coming together of an industry association and a research institution is expected to trigger the growth rate of adoption of new technologies by the industry, resulting in effective delivery in road construction and maintenance sector.
For technology dissemination, a Conference on Road and Transportation Technologies for the North East Region (CORTNE 2013) was organised at Guwahati by CSIR-CRRI and CSIR-NEIST in collaboration with PWDs of all eight North Eastern States. It was considered as the first of its kind event at least in the road sector where all North-Eastern States participated in organising and ensuring success. The coming together of entire road fraternity from the region for the conference was a welcoming sign for the growth of the sector. The major recommendation of the Conference is to go for quick scale-up of successful technologies for large-scale implementation of appropriate technologies. All stakeholders need to join hands in delivering to the users the best of the technological progress. The fear about the performance of such technologies needs to be overcome to enjoy the fruits of growth and prosperity.
With these recommendations, another workshop on Technologies for North East Region and Implementation Framework (TIF) was conducted at Gangtok to trace newer business models for technology transfer, to inculcate an environment wherein the profession understands the requirement and possible ways to adopt new technologies, and to generate visibility for business development. It was found that various agencies embraced various models of adopting new technologies. It demanded to have crystalised models that have universal or regional appeal and acceptance both in government as well as by private agencies.
There have been initiatives from the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH), Indian Roads Congress (IRC) and the National Rural Road Development Agency (NRRDA). MoRTH has also framed a policy to use emerging new materials and technologies in construction of National Highways. IRC already had a scheme for accreditation of new materials and techniques, framed in 2007. Under the scheme, it has accredited more than 70 new materials/techniques. NRRDA has also recently released guidelines for technology initiatives under PMGSY wherein it has framed a framework for adopting new technologies.
Field / Pilot testing of such technologies / materials may be taken up under ongoing projects to test their efficacy and for enabling their adaptation. The R&D schemes, having immediate practical relevance in the context of the initiative of the government to develop roads in the region, needs to be taken up on priority. However, in numerous occasions, the general experience is that there are reluctance on part of executive agencies to allow field testing of these new technologies / materials, etc., as a means of their performance evaluation for enabling taking up of further necessary action for their possible wider use in the sector.
These technology management initiatives have triggered the need to have well defined single framework for adopting new technologies across the sector because most of the executing agencies are delivering across the spectrum of services. On the other front, we have adequate mechanism in place to venture for the new technologies and make best use out of them.
The framework for the ecosystem is illustrated in the figure. All stakeholders have to make decisions well balanced with appropriate risk-taking and proactiveness considering hand-holding approach. The overall framework is successful only when there is an understanding of technology management, either explicitly or implicitly by the individuals. There have been success stories in public works departments of the north east region and the interesting aspect is the presence of the ecosystem.
Road Development Ecosystem
For an effective road development ecosystem, various stakeholders such as planners, executing agencies, researchers, academicians, technology managers, financing agencies, and industry need to join hands for adoption of new technologies. Any new technology comes with a fear of acceptance or rejection. The key factor is while implementing a new technology, issues may come up at implementation stage. Apart from the technical aspects, acceptability or handling of such issues depends upon the team members who are implementing it, particularly their willingness or passion, competency and availability of time and resources.
The views expressed in this article are the author?s own and do not reflect that of the organisation he represents