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For the better upkeep of the roads, the state government has approved its new road maintenance policy. Under this policy, the upkeep of the road would rest on the contractors for the period of five to nine years.
The state government gave its nod to the ambitious policy earlier this week. The principal secretary of the Cabinet Department, Brajesh Mehrotra told Business Standard, “Under this new policy, the state government has changed its entire mechanism of road maintenance. Under this new policy, the state government proposes a performance based maintenance. The upkeep of the roads will be the responsibility of the chosen contractors.”
He added, “It is a very detailed policy, under which the state government has a formed time line for various maintenance related works. If the contractors fail to complete work within the time-line, there is also provision of penalty.”
The new policy proposes Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for the better upkeep of the roads. “Under this policy, the maintenance of newly paved roads will be the responsibility of the contractors for the period of 5 years. In case of old roads, the state government will float tenders to invite companies for this purpose. The chosen contractors will be responsible for the period of five to nine years. In order to attract such companies, the state government is also contemplating on allowing them to collect toll on the roads, they maintain,” said one of the state government officials.
In the first phase, the state government is planning to hand over only state highways (SH) to such companies under this policy. Mehrotra said, “SHs are very important for the state government. They connect the whole state and we have spent a big amount of money on their development. Therefore, these roads would be the first to be handed over to private partners. However, we will think, if private partners show their interest on Major District Roads (MDRs).”
Roads happen to be the major thrust area for the state government in the last seven years. According to state government data, almost 25,000 kms roads have been paved in these years. “In last seven years of NDA regime, the state government built, widened and strengthened almost all roads of Bihar. Now, these roads require maintenance. Keeping this in mind, we have prepared our own road maintenance policy, which encompasses every possible aspect of the road maintenance work,” Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi told Business Standard a few days ago.