Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways C.P. Joshi on Friday announced that toll on the Mumbai-Baroda national highway would be collected electronically from April and the speed of commercial vehicles on national highways regulated to reduce accidents.

Responding to queries on Google Plus Hangout, Dr. Joshi said the Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) would be standardised to ensure interoperability of the systems adopted by all the concessionaires on the stretch.

To avoid accidents on upcoming Sevoke-Rangpo line

To get started a project that has been hanging for four years now for want of environment and forest clearance, the Railways have decided to install sensors to track the pachyderms present on or near rail tracks. The Railway Ministry has sought a detailed report on the feasibility of the project in order to get approval for the construction of the first rail link to Sikkim which is estimated to cost Rs.1,340 crore.

The 266-km project is estimated to cost Rs. 20,000 crore

Haryana, Punjab, Delhi and the Centre have agreed to construct an access-controlled Delhi-Ludhiana Expressway at an estimated cost of Rs. 20,000 crore.

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s proposal to revise the Delhi-Chandigarh Expressway to one connecting the national Capital with Ludhiana was ratified by Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and Delhi Public Works Department Minister Raj Kumar Chauhan at a meeting chaired by Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways C.P. Joshi.

“They suffer from inherent financial weaknesses”

Taking a tough stand, the Union government on Thursday said GMR Infra and GVK Power and Infrastructure Limited, which had served notices on the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) stating that they were withdrawing from two major highway projects owing to delays in environment clearances, suffered from inherent financial weaknesses.

Joshi issues directive to speed up ongoing projects

With private players evincing little interest in taking up road projects, the Centre has scaled down targets for awarding National Highway projects for the current financial year by over 50 per cent. After a review meeting the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highway has decided to award just about 4,600 km of roads during the current financial year. To make up for this Minister C. P. Joshi has issued directive to speed up ongoing projects, according to highly placed sources.

The Railways are facing technical hitches in installing environment-friendly bio-toilets in trains, forcing an extension of the deadline for implementation of the project.

All new passenger coaches will have bio-toilets by 2016-17, but retrofitting of the existing coaches are expected to be completed by 2021-22. The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation will fund 50 per cent of the retrofitting cost of two lakh units in the existing 50,000 coaches.

National highways will now be constructed on the concepts of spot improvement and corridor redevelopment to take the financial burden off the government and make it more public-friendly.

Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways C. P. Joshi has approved two pilot projects in this regard. At the Hero Honda Chowk on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway the spot improvement concept would be experimented and the corridor redevelopment concept would be executed on the Delhi-Dasna section of NH-24.

Beware when you take a newly constructed National Highway, lest you land in the woods.

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) actually intends to construct new highways in bits and pieces, as it is unable to secure environment clearance for the entire project that involves construction of stretches through forest ranges. In a desperate bid to push up the pace of construction of highways, the MoRTH has proposed to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to clear part of such road projects — that is, instead of sitting over the entire project it should give approval for at least that portion which does not pass through the forest.

Railway track and stations will be cleaner in the days to come, with the railways deciding to install bio-toilets in all coaches in a phased manner. It, however, cautioned that the success of the project would depend upon the cooperation and discipline of passengers.

The decision comes close on the heels of an offer made by the Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh to share 50 per cent of the cost from the budgetary allocation of the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. The offer pertains to retrofitting bio-toilets that the railways have developed jointly with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 50,000 passenger coaches.

Even though the Indian Railways has taken over the catering service it has not been able to implement its policy on the desired lines and the problem of drinking water continues to be acute and a matter of concern in stations and moving trains.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee headed by T.R. Baalu in its report, which was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Monday, expressed concern that during inspection, the committee found that normal tap water was being used for drinking at most stations.