Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Infy, Wipro to part-fund Bangalore expressway

Infy, Wipro to part-fund Bangalore expressway
Business Standard/Rediff

The state and the central governments have finally responded to the persistent criticism of the terrible infrastructure in and around Bangalore.

Bangalore will soon get a Rs 360-crore four-lane elevated toll expressway to link it with a key job-spinning suburb as it moves to tackle traffic woes stemming from high growth, officials said on Monday.

The 9-km expressway from Bangalore to Electronics City will be partly funded by the association of its occupants, including software giants like Infosys Technologies and Wipro, besides units of Siemens and Hewlett-Packard.

In a bid to ease the burden on the existing Bangalore-Hosur Road which passes by Electronics City on the National Highway 7, the Union ministry of shipping, road transport and highways has also commissioned a feasibility study for widening the 25 km route to 6-8 lane in a three-year timeframe from zero date.

"The entire project will be executed in two phases from the 8th mile through the 33 km stretch connecting Bangalore to Hosur in Tamil Nadu at an estimated cost of Rs 625 crore. From the outskirts of Bangalore (8th mile) to the Electronics City, an elevated 10 km four-lane highway will be built at a cost of Rs 360 crore. It will come up over the existing four-lane highway to facilitate thousands of IT professionals to drive on a fast lane," Transport Minister T R Baalu said.

While the Karnataka government and the National Highways Authority of India will hold 33.33 per cent stake each, the Electronics City Industry Association, consisting of companies like Infosys and Wipro, will participate in the BOT (build-operate and transfer) project with 33.33 per cent equity stake.

A tripartite agreement will be signed for executing the project and operating the fast-lane highway. Toll will be levied on user vehicles.

"As part of the National Highways Development Project, the 25 km road on NH-7 will be widened to six lanes up to 18th km and into 8 lanes from the Electronics City to Hosur for fast movement of heavy duty trucks and high volume traffic between Bangalore and Chennai," Baalu added.

After spot inspection of various projects in Karnataka by the NHAI in association with the state PWD (public works department), Baalu declared the 625 km portion of the Golden Quadrilateral across Karnataka will be completed by mid-2005 at a cost of Rs 1,569 crore.

"There have been some delays in completing certain sections of the quadrilateral project in the state for want of land and awarding the contracts through an elaborate tender process. Though the projects were earlier scheduled to be completed by December-end, we are extending the deadline by another six months," he said.

According to Union Minister of State for Road Transport and National Highways K H Muniyappa, the NHAI would take up four other projects in the state at an estimated cost of Rs 2,545 crore for completion in the next 2-4 years.

"To strengthen the road infrastructure in Karnataka, our ministry will take up widening and upgrading of the 85 km Bangalore (K R Puram)-Kolar-Mulbagal National Highway (NH-4) at a cost of Rs 400 crore, the 19.5 km Bangalore-Nelamangala on NH-4 at a cost of Rs 400 crore and the 157 km Nelamangala-Hassan National Highway (NH-48) at a cost of Rs 620 crore. The NHAI will also take up the 74 km Kundapur-Surathkal National Highway (NH-17) at a cost of Rs 500 crore," Muniyappa announced.

Muniyappa admitted that Bangalore had witnessed rapid growth in the last five years leading to severe stress on road and support infrastructure.

In order to support this growth with suitable infrastructure, Muniyappa said the various projects would be taken up after a detailed feasibility study for developing the existing highways into 6-8 lanes with 4-lane elevated expressways in select places.


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