Road development in Bihar has lost momentum in the past four-five years. However, the state government is once again paying attention to the creation of an efficient road network. In the state’s Economic Survey for 2015-16, noteworthy progress has been reported on several ongoing road projects. The state government is also in the process of drafting the Road Vision 2020 to streamline its road development objectives for the next five years. On the policy front, the Bihar Rural Road Maintenance Policy has been introduced for the maintenance of rural roads. As of June 2015, over 11,000 km of roads were being maintained at an annual expenditure of Rs 22 billion.
Quality of the road network
Bihar continues to lag behind other states in terms of its population to road density ratio. In 2012-13, Bihar reported a road length of only 190 km per 100,000 population, as against an all-India ratio of 358 km per 100,000 people. Most states are far ahead of Bihar in terms of road density, except for Jharkhand and Haryana.
Over the past 15 years, the state has added 6,000 km of roads to its network including national highways, state highways and major district roads (MDRs). In terms of lane-wise capacity of the road network, 37 per cent of the roads are single lane while only about 8 per cent have multiple lanes.
The state government has initiated a State Highways Development Programme for two-laning state highways. The programme is being implemented using funds from the Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana through a tripartite agreement with the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and IRCON International Limited in 2005. The CPWD is implementing the project in 33 districts and IRCON in the remaining five districts. The CPWD has converted 1,760 km of roads into state highways so far at a cost of Rs 27 billion while IRCON has converted 354 km into state highways at a cost of Rs 9 billion.
A programme for the development of roads in left-wing extremism-affected parts of the state is also under implementation. The programme envisages the development of 127 road projects in nine districts. The programme has been divided into two packages, Road Requirement Plan (RRP) I and II. Five extremism-affected districts – Arwal, Aurangabad, Gaya, Jamui and Jehanabad – have been selected under RRP I. As of September 2015, a total of 655 km of roads had been constructed under 39 projects at an expenditure of Rs 5.31 billion. Under RRP II, proposals for 68 road projects have been submitted to the central government, and approval for these is still awaited.
Multilateral funding has played a key role in shaping Bihar’s road development agenda. At present, a key under-implementation project funded through multilateral assistance is the Bihar State Highways Project (BSHP). This project involves the rehabilitation and reconstruction of state highways and is being implemented in two phases by the Bihar State Road Development Corporation, with financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
BSHP I involves the rehabilitation and reconstruction of about 820 km of state highways. Of the total project cost of Rs 26.3 billion, ADB is funding Rs 20.58 billion in the form of a loan and the remaining is being borne by the state government. The project was expected to be completed by end-2015. However, it is now expected to be completed by mid-2016.
BSHP II involves the upgradation of five state highways comprising a length of 387 km. Of the total cost (Rs 25.47 billion), 75 per cent is being funded by ADB in the form of a loan and the remaining by the state government. Further, ADB will fund a capacity development technical assistance worth $2 million. The project was scheduled to be completed in 2015. However, given the current status of the project, it is unlikely to be completed before end-2016.
Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been limited in the state thus far. Currently, the state’s PPP portfolio comprises one completed project, two ongoing projects and three projects in the pipeline. The state has adopted a construction-cum-maintenance bidding approach for the upgradation of state highways and MDRs. So far, the state government has approved road projects comprising a length of 100 km at a cost of Rs 284 million. Meanwhile, to ensure efficient maintenance, the state government has adopted a long-term performance-based approach – the road assets maintenance contract system. During 2014-15, the upgradation and strengthening of 1,015.23 km of MDRs was completed. For 2015-16, funds to the tune of Rs 13 billion were allocated for the upgradation of MDRs.
There is also a growing focus on bridge construction. During the period 2005-06 to 2015-16 (up to January 2016), the construction of 1,013 major and minor bridges was completed under the Mukhyamantri Setu Nirman Yojana, along with the completion of 710 mega, major and minor bridges under other schemes. Some of the key completed bridges are the Arwal-Sahar bridge over the Sone river, the Balauaha Ghat bridge over the Kosi river, and a bridge across the Gandak river between Dhanha and Ratwal.
Besides, Bihar Rajya Pul Nirman Nigam Limited (BRPNNL) was entrusted with the task of constructing bridges, each costing over Rs 250 million. Between 2010-11 and 2015-16 (up to January 2016) BRPNNL had constructed 1,023 bridges at a total cost of Rs 56 billion.
With the formulation of the Road Vision 2020 to increase capacity, Bihar’s road sector is likely to offer significant opportunities to developers, contractors, operators, and equipment and material providers. A number of projects are due to be implemented by 2020, including projects which are planned to be completed in the next two years, creating immediate opportunities.