How would you describe the overview of NHIDCL? Is it confined to looking after the North Eastern States and hilly regions?
NHIDCL has been mandated to look after the transport infrastructure and other infrastructure development in the Northeastern and strategic areas in other border states. The aim is to improve the connectivity in these regions so that socio-economic development can take place as well as the strategic needs of the country can be taken care of.
How would you describe the success rate of NHIDCL and its initiatives?
The NHIDCL is currently in the formative phase of its programme where we have started a large number of projects. A few highways have been completed already. Earlier, the completion ratio was very low. Under NHIDCL, the pace has been accelerated and quality has been improved. NHIDCL has also brought new technology in procurement as well as in engineering, design and construction phases. We hope that the use of these new technologies will bring out new features in the projects.
What are the key areas that you are taking care of?
Our concern in the areas through which we will be taking our highways relates to the geo-technical and geo-physical conditions of the area as well as the land that would be needed to lay that corridor, the obstacles in terms of availability of that land, structures already standing there, trees that need to be cut, permissions, etc.
We look at all these aspects besides the fact that these highways have to be optimally designed so that the public money can be used in the best possible way. We are conscious of the need to conserve ecology and environment. So we promote use of local materials. We optimise our design so that interference with geological features is minimum.
How do you look at the concept of PPP models in NHIDCL?
Presently, we don’t have any PPP model project with us because we are working in the remotest part of the country. The geographical area of these parts is not such where ‘use and pay’ concept can be introduced in a wholesale manner.
How would you describe the set of challenges that are coming in your way?
The challenges are in securing the land for corridor, securing the clearances, etc. These are difficult prospects in the areas where we work. The pace in getting these clearances is not as fast as NHIDCL would want it to be. In many States, the status of Land Records is not very good. In some regions there are environmental and ecological problems. Issues like landslides, rock fall etc, are also a major problem area for us. In these areas, the availability of construction material is less and therefore the contractors face a lot of problems in procuring them. We are trying to solve these problems with the aid of technology. The other problems are the issues of stability, insurgency, etc, in these areas. There are some areas where our movement is restricted. So, it becomes a challenge to develop highways there.
How do you find the role of IT?
NHIDCL has promoted the information technology in a big way. We have pioneered the use of information technology in the selections of consultants and the platforms built by the NHIDCL have been put to use by the Ministry in all their projects. We have also developed a portal called Inam Pro+. This portal is like an e-commerce website for the construction players where plant and machinery, the construction material is available. For this portal, we received the Gold award by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances.