Uttarakhand: New Push By Transport Ministry For Road Safety Audit Of Char Dham Mahamarg Project

by Amit Mishra - Jul 20, 2022 01:43 PM +05:30 IST
Uttarakhand: New Push By Transport Ministry For Road Safety Audit Of Char Dham Mahamarg ProjectThe all-weather Char Dham road plan. (Screengrab from a YouTube video)
  • The main aim of road safety audit is to ensure that all new road schemes operate as safely as practicable.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has decided to engage six independent experts for quality and road safety audit of National Highway (NH) projects under Char Dham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojana in Uttarakhand.

The scope of the assignment covers about 646 kilometres of NHs including about 578 km of completed length implemented through Uttarakhand State Public Works Department, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) and Border Roads Organisation (BRO). Complete inspection reports shall be submitted within a month.

Road Safety Audit

Road safety audit (RSA) is a formal procedure for assessing accident potential and safety performance in the provision of new road schemes and schemes for the improvement and maintenance of existing roads.

The main aim of the audit is to ensure that all new road schemes operate as safely as practicable. This means that safety should be considered throughout the entire cycle of design, construction and pre-opening of any project facility and also during operation and maintenance of the highway.

Road safety audits assess the operation of a road, focusing on road safety as it affects the users of the road. These users include pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, truck/bus drivers, on-road public transport users, etc. The outcome of a road safety audit is the identification of any road safety deficiencies and formulation of recommendations aimed at removing or reducing those deficiencies.

Char Dham Mahamarg Vikas Pariyojana

A flagship initiative of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the Rs 12,000 crore highway expansion project was envisaged in 2016 to widen 889 km of hill roads to provide all-weather connectivity in the Char Dham circuit, covering four major shrines — Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri — in the upper Himalayas in the state of Uttarakhand.

The Badrinath Dham. (Wikipedia)
The Badrinath Dham. (Wikipedia)

The programme includes widening and improvement of 825 km (existing 889 km) of NHs for providing faster and safer road connectivity from Rishikesh to Janki Chatti (Yamunotri), Gangotri, Gaurikund (Kedarnath) and Mana (Badrinath) including Tanakpur to Pithoragarh section of Kailash-Mansarovar route in Uttarakhand at an estimated cost of Rs 12,072 crore.

The NH selected for upgradation passes through the districts of Tehri Garhwal, Uttarkashi, Pauri Garhwal, Rudraprayag, Chamoli, Pithoragarh, Champawat and Dehradun in Uttarakhand.

Laying the foundation stone in December 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the project as a tribute to those who lost their lives during flash floods in the state.

Project In EPC Mode

The projects include provisions like widening of existing narrow and geometrically deficient NHs to two-Lane NH standards with paved shoulders, protection of landslide prone zones, construction of bypasses, long bridges, tunnels, bus/truck lay-bay/rest area and elevated corridors.

The works under Char Dham Pariyojna are being implemented on engineering procurement and construction (EPC) mode of contract. These projects are being implemented by three executing agencies of Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, viz, Uttarakhand State PWD, BRO and NHIDCL.

Further, under this EPC mode of contract, the contractor is directly responsible for ensuring quality of the work as well as rectification of defects and maintenance of the project stretch for a period of four years after completion of construction.

Status Report

The government had divided the entire connectivity programme covering 889 km into 53 projects.

Out of the total 53 civil works covering the entire length under Char Dham project, 40 civil works of total project cost amounting to Rs 9,475 crore (including cost of pre-construction works amounting to Rs 491 crore) in a length of 673 km have been sanctioned.

The Char Dham programme was initially targeted for completion by March 2020. However, the schedule date of completion of the programme has been delayed mainly due to litigation in the National Green Tribunal and further civil appeal by the petitioner in the Supreme Court.

With the matter being disposed off by the apex court in December 2021, the programme is targeted for completion by December 2023.

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