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Rajasthan takes a big leap in highways construction

Posted on Aug 02 2014 | IANS

Jaipur, Aug 1 : The Rajasthan State Highways Bill, 2014 was passed in the assembly Friday, seeking to provide for a network of modern and safe highways across the state.

This follows Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje's budget announcement to build 20,000 km of state highways over the next five years through public-private partnership mode.

"This is by far the most ambitious highways programme taken up by any state in the country," claimed Public Works Department Minister Yunus Khan.

While presenting the bill for consideration of the assembly, the minister said this is the first such comprehensive and multi-faceted road law in India.

"It is a model law which will help in making Rajasthan a model state in road development," he said.

According to the bill, a new State Highways Authority will be constituted within a month to initiate this programme in a time-bound manner.

The authority will be a much improved version of the National Highways Authority of India as it will have more comprehensive functions and powers to build and operate the state highways.

The new law contains several provisions that will ensure safety in an environment where loss of life and limb on account of road accidents is very high and a cause of concern.

It provides for stringent penalties and effective enforcement to curb drunken driving, over-loading, over-speeding and other offences which compromise safety and result in accidents.

Another unique feature is the introduction of a control zone comprising a strip of 100 metres width along the road. While no construction will be allowed within 25 metres of the road boundary, development in the remaining 75 metres will be permitted as per rules to be made by the state government.

This will not only ensure orderly development along highways, it will also prevent accidents on account of congestion along the highways.

Under the new law, the State Highways Authority will have power to regulate the traffic and take other measures to improve safety and ensure smooth flow of traffic on the highways.

The law requires the State Highways Authority to act on business principles. This will reduce the financial burden on road users and the government.

The law also allows the authority to raise market borrowings. While most of the programme will be financed by private investment from PPP concessionaires, central and state budgetary grants will also be utilised. The balance will be financed from market borrowings.

The authority will also develop wayside amenities for the convenience of road users. The objective is to provide a wholesome experience to road users.

The new law provides for stringent and effective measures to remove any encroachments from highway land. This will also help in improving safety.

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