Innovation holds the key to overcoming hurdles in developing roads and junctions, said C. Kandasamy, Director General (Road Development) and Special Secretary of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).
He outlined a slew of measures by which problems like paucity of land and funds can be overcome to construct a network of wide and safe roads in India.
“Clover-leaf structures like the one at Kathipara in Chennai hold the key to decongesting busy junctions,” he said.
He suggested the acquisition of lands and buildings located on the bell mouth of junctions for building a clover-leaf structure. Within the loops of the structure could be built an apartment complex, shopping mall, multi-tier parking area and other utilities where the evictees can be rehabilitated. This will bring investors in the realty sector, while decongesting junctions. It will also reduce pollution caused by vehicles caught in snarls, accidents, the cost of land acquisition and help promote inclusive growth (the evictees can be resettled at the junction itself), Mr Kandasamy told The Hindu on the sidelines of the ongoing infrastructure conference organized here by the PWD.
Highway through building
He also suggested that a couple of floors be set apart in high-rise buildings at congested junctions so that roads and highways could be built through them. He cited the example of a highway cutting through floors five to seven of the Gate Tower Building in Osaka, Japan.
“I am having a rethink on the National Highways Authority of India’s (NHAI) policy on the display of advertisements alongside highways,” he said. The name and logo of (sponsor) companies can be displayed on crash barriers and other utilities at an intermittent distance. This method can even be used to generate funds to build foot overbridges and skywalks for pedestrians to cross busy highways. But care will be taken to ensure that it does not distract motorists. (The NHAI currently discourages advertisements and even sponsors installing lights and reflectors on accident-prone roads and medians.)
"Initially, we can take up one pilot project per State on each of these aspects. These issues will be taken up with the Indian Roads Congress (IRC),” he said.
To a question on whether this would result in the annulment of toll, Mr Kandasamy said that toll could not be done away with altogether, under the BOT method of developing roads. But the rates could be reduced when revenue is generated through other means.
The integration of different modes of transport too is important so that commuters could chose from among them. “This is important to promote public transport. Such a multi-modal transportation corridor can be tried out on busy Kochi-Thiruvananthapuram stretch, where there are too many private vehicles on the road.”