The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved the implementation of an umbrella programme for the National Highway Sector – “Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-1”, spanning over a period of 5 years (2017-18 to 2021-22) at an estimated outlay of INR 5,35,000 crores. The objective of the program is to improve the efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps through the development of Economic Corridors, Inter Corridors and Feeder Routes, National Corridor Efficiency Improvement, Border and International connectivity roads, Coastal and Port connectivity roads and Green-field expressways. The Phase-1 of Bharatmala Pariyojana involves the construction of a total length of about 24,800 km as a part of the Bharatmala network and in addition to completing 10,000 km of residual works of National Highway Development Project (NHDP).
Identification of the project stretches under the components of the Bharatmala Pariyojana has been done based on detailed O-D (Origin-Destination) study, freight flow projections and verification of the identified infrastructure gaps through geo-mapping. This O-D study has also considered the integration of economic corridors with the ongoing projects under NHDP and infrastructure asymmetry in major corridors.
While the Bharatmala network was designed with an objective of enabling corridor-based highway development in the country, based on traffic flow comparing with the existing capacity constraints, the network has been optimized by adding, deleting and modifying certain stretches to provide straighter, shorter and faster connectivity between economic centers.
As part of the optimization exercise, relatively straighter greenfield alignments have been identified for connecting important economic centers. This approach has been adopted keeping in view various upgradation projects that had already been taken up, wherein the cost of pre-construction activities including the cost of land acquisition was significantly high as compared to the civil cost of the project. Upgradation/Expansion of the existing corridors (brownfield) presented multiple challenges in terms of higher land acquisition cost, need for rehabilitation and resettlement of population inhabiting the land parcels abutting the existing corridors, need for utility shifting, tree cutting, etc. To overcome these challenges and to provide alternate connectivity options for heavily congested routes, these greenfield alignments have been identified. Moreover, this approach would have an added advantage of improving connectivity to hitherto unconnected / poorly connected and underdeveloped areas in the country, thereby triggering economic activity in such regions.
One such greenfield corridor identified was the Delhi – Mumbai Expressway passing through the states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The alignment reduces the distance between Delhi and Mumbai by around 150 km and the travel time to 13 hours from the current 24 hours.
Delhi – Mumbai Expressway Background
Delhi-Mumbai National Corridor (NH 48 section of the Golden Quadrilateral) is one the busiest and most critical corridor of the national highways network, connecting the national capital with the financial capital of the country. The corridor carries an average traffic of ~80,000 PCUs currently and the traffic is expected to grow to ~100,000 PCUs in the next 2 – 3 years.
While the current Delhi-Mumbai National corridor is predominantly 6 laned, the existing infrastructure is insufficient to cater to the present traffic and the expected growth, thereby necessitating an immediate need for capacity augmentation. However, Continuous ribbon development along the existing alignment constraints the expansion of the existing alignment. In addition, the cost of land acquisition and utility shifting for capacity expansion of the existing alignment is prohibitively expensive. All other alternate routes between Delhi and Mumbai, such as via Delhi – Agra and Agra – Mumbai are longer. Development of a greenfield alignment is the only viable alternative for enhancing highway capacity between Delhi and Mumbai.
Delhi – Mumbai Expressway – Salient Features
Delhi – Mumbai greenfield expressway is being developed with an 8-lane configuration with provision to expand to 12-lanes in the future, with a design speed of 120 km/hr. In addition, the corridor will be completely access controlled with closed tolling. Perpetual pavement design has been adopted for Delhi – Vadodara section of the corridor, which passes through arid regions and rigid pavement design has been adopted for Vadodara – Mumbai section of the corridor, passing through rain fed areas, to provide superior ride quality, user comfort and longer pavement life at a lower total cost of operation over the lifecycle of the project.
In addition, a network of 92 way side amenities has also been planned on either side of the expressways at an interval of 50 km. The larger wayside amenities boast of commercial facilities such as motels/ dormitories for truck drivers, hotels for car/ bus passengers, etc., in addition to the standard facilities such as fuel stations, restaurants to enable comfortable passenger and freight movement on the expressways. These wayside amenities will be located strategically near the major economic centers catered to by the expressways, so as to leverage the economic activity around these centers. Additional commercial facilities such as convention centers, shopping centers, temporary material storage yards, etc. are also being planned to provide more options for the road users and to commercialize the land parcel.
The Delhi to Vadodara section of the corridor is being executed in EPC mode while Vadodara to Mumbai section is being executed in HAM mode
Delhi – Mumbai Expressway – Key Benefits
The development of the Delhi – Mumbai greenfield corridor will benefit the local community through the generation of employment during the construction phase as well as during repair and maintenance works. It is estimated that the development of Delhi – Mumbai expressway will generate an employment of ~ 50 Lakh man-days during the construction phase.
Further, the development of a high-speed corridor will also result in further industrialization due to faster and more efficient inward and outward transport. This will lead to the generation of indirect employment through creation of additional industrial jobs, resulting in higher average per capita income and higher State GDP. The greenfield corridor will also open up the hinterland in the state of Rajasthan & Madhya Pradesh, resulting in the economic development of the region.
The proposed 1,352 km access-controlled 8-lane expressway from Delhi – Mumbai will act as an alternative to the existing route along NH-48 which is longer (1440 km) as well as more congested. In addition, the alignment will serve as an alternate route from Delhi to the cities of Jaipur, Kota, Chittorgarh, Indore, Ujjain, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Vadodara with reduced distances and travel time, as shown in the table below:
|S.R||Urban Centre||Current distance from Delhi (km)||Distance from Delhi along Delhi – Mumbai expressway (km)||Expected Reduction in Travel Time (Hours)||Spur from Expressway|
|1||Jaipur||277||285||1.6||Via NH-11: Jaipur-Agra highway|
|2||Kishangarh||366||390||1.8||Via NH-11: Jaipur-Agra highway and NH-48|
|3||Ajmer||405||420||2.0||Via NH-11: Jaipur-Agra highway and NH-48|
|4||Kota||506||455||3.5||Via NH-27 (East-west corridor)|
|5||Chittorgarh||574||580||3.7||Via NH-27 (East-west corridor)|
|6||Udaipur||660||693||3.3||Via NH-48 and NH-27 (East-west corridor)|
|7||Bhopal||760||700||6.0||Via Kota-Jhalawar-Biaora-Bhopal highway|
|8||Ujjain||770||700||6.4||Via Kota-Ujjain-Indore highway|
|9||Indore||825||780||6.7||Via Kota-Ujjain-Indore highway|
|10||Ahmedabad||946||950||5.1||Via NH-59: Godhra-Ahmedabad highway|
The reduction in distance and time is expected to have significant economic benefits. Reduction in distance will result in a reduction of 8 – 9 % in the logistics costs on the corridor and will result in a saving of ~Rs. 100,000 Cr. to the economy over its lifetime. Reduction in distance, time and fuel consumption will also enable a reduction in forex outgo, as a significant proportion of India’s crude requirements are imported.
In addition, the reduction in fuel consumption is expected to have significant ecological benefits. For instance, it is estimated that about 320 Million liters of fuel will be saved per annum driven by this distance reduction on the Delhi- Mumbai Expressway. Assuming a per liter CO2 emission of 2.68 Kg, the greenfield corridor will result in a reduction of 857 Mn kg of CO2 emission every year. The equivalent number of trees required to absorb these emissions is more than 40 Mn. Further, with an average density of 80 trees per acre, the equivalent forest cover turns out to be ~ 200,000 Ha., which is a significant ecological impact due to reduction in travel distance. Development of the greenfield alignment instead of expanding the existing alignment will also result in avoiding felling of more than 10,000 trees along the existing alignment. In addition, more than ~10,00,000 trees are proposed to be planted along the corridor.
Further, conscious efforts have been made to minimize the impact on water bodies as well. To ensure that the impact on water carrying capacity of these water bodies is minimized, a number of major bridges, minor bridges and culverts have been planned along the entire greenfield alignment. Wherever, the water carrying capacity is being affected by the construction of the highway, all efforts have been taken to ensure the water holding capacity of the water body is not impacted through measures such as desilting the waterbody, etc. Rain water harvesting facility has been planned at every 500m of highway to conserve rain water. In addition, solar powered lights are planned to be installed at major structures, interchanges and at all toll plazas to improve road safety and rider comfort.
Similarly, while designing the alignment of the proposed corridor, there has been a conscious attempt to minimize ecological impact and as a result, out of the total project, only 20 km passes through reserve forests. An equivalent amount of land (of 2 to 10 times) has been earmarked for compulsory afforestation.
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