This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth for Democracy. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Work Done By The Transport Ministry In The Last 4 Years Has Earned My Admiration

More from Youth for Democracy

By this time next year, we will have a new government in place. Whether that is the re-election of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) or a third front similar to the short-lived governments of Mr HD Deve Gowda and Mr IK Gujral, is anyone’s guess. Whatever the outcome, millions of opinions will be formed and re-formed in the build-up as the present government’s term draws to a close.

Partisan plaudits and criticism aside, there is one ministry, in these last four years, that has certainly earned my admiration – the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways.

In India, people have moved from having no roads at all to dirt roads to gravel roads to paved roads. The connectivity a road provides extends to not just economic benefits but social connectivity. A person in Jaipur need only use the roads to reach Delhi. This social connectivity is increased when the medium is not restricted to land but expanded to water.

More Roads, Safer Roads

Since roads are under the domain of states, the Centre is entrusted with National Highways; these constitute about 2.2% of all roads in the country despite handling around 40% of the traffic. The roads were constructed in 2016–17 at an impressive rate of 22.5 km per day. This totaled to 8,231 km and almost twice of that – 16,271 km – was awarded for construction. Comparing the amount of road constructed against the previous administration gives an idea of how rejuvenated this Ministry’s administration has been. Between 2011-14 – 15,005 km was constructed as opposed to 18,702 in 2014-17 and only 15,330 km was awarded as opposed to 34,018 km in 2014-17.

I believe an aggressive approach towards roads and infrastructure, in general, will boost employment, revive the investment cycle and generate a higher standard of living for Indians; I couldn’t be happier with the amount of roads constructed. I am reminded of Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government which also had a heavy emphasis on infrastructure through the Golden Quadrilateral to connect the 4 major cities of India – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai as well as the National Highways Development Project.

Even in terms of road safety, which has taken a significant toll on our country with an unacceptable number of deaths, this government has amended the current Motor Vehicles Act 1988 with the much more relevant Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2016. With National Highways accruing 28% of all accidents, despite being just about 2% of all roads, the intervention of the Centre was more than required.

This bill, which has been passed by the Lok Sabha, increases the penalty of drunk driving, establishes a National Road Safety Board where State and Central representatives shall advise the governments on road standards, and even mandating contractors to maintain safety design characteristics, etc. I personally see this as a better bill now than what it was when it was introduced. The Minister himself, Mr Gadkari, has taken the right path in letting this bill take its time by being scrutinised by a Standing Committee. This is a perfect example of how bills evolve to become better due to the Parliamentary procedure.

The Brasilia Declaration requires reduction of road accidents by 50% by 2020. This has been signed by our country. The National Road Safety Policy has been approved to achieve this. Apart from the usual promises of promoting awareness, encouraging safer road infrastructure etc, even setting up a body here like the National Road Safety Council will not be enough. The best decision taken by this government was involving the state governments. A group of state transport ministers have been constituted to examine best practices related to road safety. This group, a subsidiary to the Council, not only promotes federalism but recognises that roads are a coincident issue. This is the way to tackle a problem. You cannot have an outdated approach to road safety as roads are built by both states and the Centre. It is only natural that a subsequent solution would involve the states too.

During the UPA’s rule, bridges in the National Highways were built with disparity between each other. The UPA did not take into account that bridges were built with three lanes to avoid costly reconstruction. Sometimes bridges were built with two lanes when the highway was a six-laner. Simply put – wider lanes generally reduce traffics as it has distinct spaces in the same direction for vehicles, but, when that same traffic comes into a narrower lane i.e. two lanes, then, the chances of accidents or long jams. To solve this, four-laning of National Highways is underway and the Ministry has identified about 5,575 km for their upgradations to four-lanes or six-lanes. Clearly, ameliorating the UPA-era mistakes is better late than never.

Involving A New Medium

National waterways, not rivers, can be legislated by the Parliament. The Ministry has declared more than 100 inland waters as national waterways so that they can be developed. The capabilities and resources of the Centre are a cut above all of the state Governments combined. Developing and linking national waterways is not just important for linking rivers, but, to facilitate trade via water. With the upcoming Chabahar Port, India will need all its trading capabilities in the 4,382 km length which has, up till now, been declared National Waterways, to be functioning optimally so that long distances can be covered. I am positive that this effort to work on National Waterways will avail a strategic opportunity.

Money for levelling, linking and developing these waterways is already underway to be sanctioned. The previous NDA Government passed the Central Road Fund Act (2000) to impose a cess on petrol and diesel. The money collected is transferred to the NHAI which then gives it to state Governments for development of state and city roads. The present NDA Government amended this Act. The amended act seeks to allocate a share of this cess towards the development of inland waterways. 2.5% goes to fund national waterways.

An Ostensibly Better Model

Traditionally, with previous administrations, the tender process was either operationally risky for private contractors or financially risky. Even with online tenders, private players were unsure if they wanted to do business with the government. The models before was Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Toll, Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) Annuity or Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC).

With BOT Toll, the roads they built were theirs to recover their investment via toll which essentially amounted to the privatisation of highways, which, either got misused or did not get enough traffic. The models of EPC and BOT Annuity burnt a financial hole in the Government’s pocket. Stalled projects have been piling up and increased the problem of NPAs (Non-Performing Assets).

The Ministry came out with an innovative model for developing highways i.e. the Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM). In this model, there is a mixture of existing models i.e. taking the best from both worlds and applying it to allay the concerns of private players. In this model, the Government puts in 40% of the money and the contractor has to come up with the remaining 60%. Also, contractors recover their investment through annuity payments by the Government. All regulatory clearances risk, compensation risk, commercial risk and traffic risk is borne by the government, so the risk for the private sector is minimal. This means it is a win-win situation for both the Government and the contractor. No proverbial financial hole for the Government and no traffic risk for contractors. The Economic Survey 2017–18, which gets quite critical of the Government, mentioned that stalled projects have been reduced due to implementing HAM, inter-alia.

Debt Issue?

The Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways has done a commendable job. Some believe that the new scheme ‘Bharatmala Pariyojana’ which wants to build 9,000 km of economic corridors, might divert the traffic, which under the BOT (Toll) Model might mean more debt issues for private companies. As economic corridors increase, the drivers might not use the existing roads. This is a fallacious argument as there is a well-known theory of induced demand. The theory goes – the more roads you build, the equivalent amount of drivers will be generated.

That is not to say that drivers will appear magically, but since roads are virtually free, discounting petrol/diesel and toll, people would want to use it more and more as travelling is a desired human activity. Even if you assume that the HAM Model, which is now prevalent, is not used, there has been considerable research to show that building more roads does not reduce traffic congestion. It certainly will not in a country like India where there has been an exponential rise in the number of vehicles.

Credit where credit is due – the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways has done remarkable work under Mr Gadkari. These last four years have been steady for the transport sector. This is one of the best run ministries by someone who has experience in running businesses. I applaud the efforts and hope that the next government, whether it has the same Minister or not, builds on this progress.

You must be to comment.

More from Youth for Democracy

Similar Posts

By Amiya Bhaskara

By Shubham Singla

By Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI)

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below