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Great Expectations from the Outer Ring Road Project
The outer ring road project in hyderabad is expected to establish the state of transport infrastructure in the future.
Hundreds of years after Sher Shah Suri developed what is now known as the Grand Trunk Road, people who use the road remember his foresight and vision. Unfortunately, modern India does not boast of such a magnanimous outlook, and infrastructure for long, has been on the back turner.

As the economy opened up and international majors established their units, the quality of infrastructure began to be questioned. The moot point was whether the country could take the kind of investment with what looks like crumbling infrastructure.

Worse still was not the fact that none of the new investments were translated into new projects nor was a long-term vision in place. If you run up against a wall there are better ways than to just bring it down. Which is precisely what, KV Rao is thinking about.

As Principal Secretary, Infrastructure & Investment Dept, Mr. Rao is trying to act as a catalyst between the various departments. For him it is a job sans boundaries. "I dont control any departments nor do I have to implement any of the projects." says the man who has the enviable job of making sure that major projects planned by various wings of the state government become a reality.

One of the ventures that he is trying to get rolling is the Outer ring road project that will see a eight lane, 169 km expressway take a substantial load of the city proper. "I am trying to marry the concept of satellite townships and knowledge corridor into this project" adds Rao.

For a start, the Government of Andhra Pradesh had made it clear that it was not willing to put in any money into the outer ring road (ORR) and the challenge for those involved in implementing is to find a funding source.

The outer ring road project is touted to be the first of its kind in the country and will be fully access controlled, costing around Rs.8,000 crores. Of this, Rs. 3,000 crores will have to be spent for the development of the outer ring road and Rs.5000 crores will be kept aside for the development of the townships.

The company, which proposes to take up the project, has to have the wherewithal to bring in 8,000 cr upfront. Moreover a period of time, the revenue from the townships should take are of the finances of the project.

For the ORR project, the Govt of AP, is bringing in the land, examining the feasibility, securing environmental clearance, and also venturing into designing. The company, which will build the project, will do so as per the specifications set out.

The size of the investment required calls for a Government-to-Government tie-up. An MOU for the ORR project was signed with the Dubai Government and now the Andhra Pradesh government has opened up a Swiss challenge. Presentations have also been made to the Japanese and the Malaysian government, both of whom have expressed interest.

The revenue stream for the project has been worked out and the company executing the project will first recover the cost of the ORR. It will then have to pay the Andhra Pradesh Government the cost it had incurred, for setting up the trunk infrastructure like water and power that will he put upto the doorstep of the knowledge corridor. Following that they will recover the cost of the knowledge corridor and the surplus is available after absorbing the expenditure, will be shared between the Infrastructure Corporation of Andhra Pradesh and the SPV, which will run the project.

There are number of questions about the project. For once, the government will not get into the land acquisition for the townships, and is inviting people with huge chunks of land to become partners in this venture. Land for the road, sewage treatment plants, electric sub-stations and the government however, will acquire similar structures. Further, plans are on the cards for developing a city along the ORR, which will house about one million people. About 40 per cent of them will be staying along in the townships along the knowledge corridor and the rest will travel to work.

The development of the townships and clusters are crucial to the planned development of the ORR. Apart from that a lot of planning is going into the development of 23 radial roads, which would serve as connecting roads that would generate traffic to the outer ring road.

Planners involved in the implementation of the project problems encountered in cities like Bangalore, where infrastructure collapse has led to a multitude of criticism.

The success of the Outer Ring Road will be keenly watched as it can make or break the fortunes of the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad. The model will also serve as a benchmark for future projects. As KV rao would say "We have ideas, the job is to get the money, the promoters and the project going. For the harried drivers on the roads of the twin cities, its a dream come true. Everyone involved with the project is aware of that.
Posted on : 8/11/2005
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