In a bid to modernise the national highways and overcome infrastructural challenges, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), under the Government of India, initiated several domestic and international projects. The NHAI will subsume domestic road projects, including those started by the governments of the past, under an umbrella program named Bharatmala Pariyojna.
The domestic and international projects involve several subprojects for integrating advanced technology with the highways sector and overhauling national highways. These subprojects include: Wayside Amenities (WSAs), Electronic Toll Collection (ETC), Advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS), industrial drones and remote sensing for highway projects, GPS tolling, and India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway (IMTTH). Of these, WSA, ETC, Sukhad Yatra, ATMS, drones, and IMTTH are already towards the end of their completion phases.
WSA is a subproject with three structures that provide civic amenities and safety to motorists on national highways on par with global standards – Highway Nest, Highway Nest (Mini), Highway Village. Several Nest and Nest (Mini) structures are already operational on many national highways. Highway Village – the largest of the three sprawling over five acres of land – is in its initial phases of construction. It will act as a highway port and house advanced amenities.
The Electronic Toll Collection system is operational at several Toll gates in the nation, and is an enabler of the Union government’s drive to digitalise the public sector and its services (Digital India). ETC uses RFID-encoded stickers to read the Toll invoice and debit the fee.
The ATMS is a centralised mechanism that consists of several devices to process and handle data on highway-related incidents including accidents, gridlocks, traffic jams, and natural calamities. The data is used to deploy transport and staff in case of an incident. Recently, the National Highways Authority of India initiated the installation of a new surveillance system for the ATMS.
The new system will improve road safety by providing live data and sending alerts on abnormal road conditions. Once in operation, the new camera system will give command centres more control over highways and round-the-clock access to live feeds of highways and live data on the entire stretch of the highway.
India has been enhancing its international connectivity with its 1,360-km India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway (IMTTH) megaproject. The intra-continental road project is being built under India’s Look-East policy, and will facilitate trade between India, ASEAN member-countries, and the rest of South-East Asia.
The international highway starts from Moreh in Manipur (India), traverses through Myanmar, and ends at Mae Sot in Thailand. The project proposes the construction of 69 bridges on the Tamu-Kyigone-Kalewa road section (nearly 150 km) and Kalewa-Yargi road section (over 120 km) in Myanmar to improve road connectivity with South-East Asia.
As part of this proposal, India has already finished the construction of a 130-km road connecting Moreh and Tamu in India to Kalewa in Myanmar. Several stretches on the Thailand-Myanmar side of the project are already completed. The construction or upgrading of the rest of the project awaits the finalisation of tenders and contracts, for which consultants have been already appointed.