Tech-enabled solutions to dominate road and highway development: KPMG

ANI New Delhi, India Sep 22, 2019, 12.09 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

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The country is targeting completion of 60,000 km of national highways over the next five years at an average road construction rate of 40 km per day.

As the construction of roads and highways gathers pace across India, industry leaders have started deploying technology-based solutions to enhance service levels for passenger and freight transport, according to a recent report by global consulting firm KPMG.

The country is targeting completion of 60,000 km of national highways over the next five years at an average road construction rate of 40 km per day.

Assuming an average construction cost of Rs 30 crore per km (including land acquisition cost) and factoring in inflation for road construction cost at a conservative three per cent, the total funding requirement over five years is estimated at Rs 19 lakh crore. This amounts to an average annual fund requirement of Rs 3.8 lakh crore.

Hence the approach levers are to better costs across various phases of road development, improving existing sources of funding and exploring new avenues besides policy reforms including new PPP models, said the report.

The government's focus continues to be on Bharatmala Pariyojana with added stress on multimodal integration, road safety, increasing use of information technology applications, augmentation of existing funding sources and emphasis on green initiatives. Besides, enhanced passenger facilities and logistics efficiency are major considerations.

Global trends in infrastructure indicate increased focus on innovations, use of technology tools based on data and analytics to unlock operational efficiencies, the shift of focus to developing economies and mainstreaming of sustainability. Roads and highways sector is not an exception. The role of roads and highways sector in the overall transport sector continues to be recognized globally.

In India, according to the report, highways development for bridging the required infrastructure gap is likely to be over in the next five to six years and construction activities could reduce progressively.

So a shift is expected from highways construction and development to provision of quality service to users, enhanced use of technology applications, adoption of safety solutions, promoting sustainability and augmenting existing sources of finance.

Already, technology-based initiatives in the road sector are increasingly being adopted -- right from the initial stage of project preparation to construction and O&M (operations and maintenance) phases besides in enhancing service levels for passenger and freight transport.

Road safety is another important area of application. Many such technologies have been adopted, such as the Project Management Information System which has been developed by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and is currently used to monitor more than 3,000 projects.

An intelligent transport system solution enables interaction between passengers, buses, bus stops and command centres to communicate much-needed information and check for possible violations. A video surveillance system, traffic management system and alert system can reduce traffic congestion and provide various options to drivers to reach their destinations.

An electronic toll collection system aims at eliminating the delay on toll roads by collecting tolls electronically through radio frequency identification tags.

Several other significant technology interventions are being adopted for the road transport sector, said the report.