India’s first ever Highway Capacity Manual

The Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Nitin Gadkari released India’s first ever Highway Capacity Manual in New Delhi today. The manual, known as Indo-HCM, has been developed by CSIR – CRRI on the basis of an extensive, country-wide study of the traffic characteristics on different categories of roads like the single lane, two-lane, multi-lane urban roads,  inter-urban highways and expressways and the associated intersections on these roads. The study involved seven academic institutions including IITs at Roorkee, Mumbai, and Guwahati, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, Indian Institute of Engineering and Science and Technology, Shibpur, Sardar Vallabhai Patel National Institute of Technology, Surat and Anna University, Chennai.

About Indo- HCM:

The manual has been developed by CSIR-CRRI on the basis of an extensive, country-wide study of the traffic characteristics on different categories of roads like a single lane, two-lane, multi-lane urban roads, interurban highways and expressways and the associated intersections on these roads. It will guide road engineers and policymakers about road expansion.

The manual lays down guidelines for when and how to expand or manage different types of roads and their intersections and the level of services to be put in place. It has been developed based on the unique nature and diversity of traffic on Indian roads.

Benefits of this manual:

India was among the very few South Asian countries which did not have the practice of having a country-specific HCAP manual. The US and Danish authorities had pioneered the practice of having a key document to set highway construction standards all across their countries. This manual would now help in the scientific planning and expansion of road infrastructure in the country.

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First zero-emission hydrogen-powered tram

A domestically-produced hybrid electric tram powered by hydrogen fuel cells has begun operating in Tangshan, northern China. The ecologically sound vehicle was launched amid China’s huge pollution challenges.

The world’s first hydrogen-powered tram began its commercial operations in Tangshan, one of China’s oldest industrial cities not far from the capital, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Friday. It was developed by the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) in 2015.

The tram carried around 300 passengers during its maiden trips on Thursday, Chinese media reported citing the production company. One of the first riders, Tangshan resident Su, 31, described the trip as “quite comfortable.”

The ecologically-friendly tram emits only water without any pollutants. It does not produce any nitrogen oxides, as the temperature of the reaction inside the fuel cell is kept under 100 degrees Celsius.

It has three carriages with 66 seats and can run for 40 kilometers at a maximum speed of 70 kilometers per hour consuming 12 kilograms of hydrogen. It can be refueled in just 15 minutes.

The coach rides on a 136-year-old railway line and connects several industrial heritage sites of Tangshan.

Earlier this year, a contract was signed for the train’s commercial use in Foshan City in south China’s Guangdong Province. Еight hydrogen-powered tramcars will be manufactured according to the deal.

China has been struggling with air pollution for years, with its cities often blanketed in harmful thick smog. On Friday, a yellow smog alert was issued for the Chinese capital Beijing and its suburbs, which were covered with dense fog causing highway closures.

Fuel Cell

A fuel cell is a device that converts chemical potential energy (energy stored in molecular bonds) into electrical energy. A PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) cell uses hydrogen gas (H2) and oxygen gas (O2) as fuel. The products of the reaction in the cell are water, electricity, and heat. This is a big improvement over internal combustion engines, coal burning power plants, and nuclear power plants, all of which produce harmful by-products.

Hydrogen + Oxygen = Electricity + Water Vapor

 

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Home Ministry set to take over Bureau of Civil Aviation Security

THE UNION Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is set to move a proposal before the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) for taking over the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), currently under the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA). The move, initially opposed by MoCA, was proposed on the ground that security at airports is provided by the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which reports to the MHA.

BCAS is responsible for laying down standards, policies and measures with regard to security of all commercial flights. Multiple agencies working at airports, including the Intelligence Bureau, immigration officials, security personnel, local police, are bound by regulations passed by BCAS. Asked about MoCA’s objections, the official, who did not want to be named, said: “Discussions in this regard have been held at the top level involving the PMO and NSA, after which this decision has been taken, keeping in mind the safety and security of airports.

Once the Cabinet gives its approval, the CISF will assume a larger role in airport security.The new set-up will help in better coordination and monitoring, since the CISF, IB and state intelligence all report to MHA.”

The decision is based on a security audit conducted by a team of experts from the MHA, IB, CISF and BCAS, which had recommended the change.

Another reason cited for taking control of BCAS is the issue of security clearances for airlines and airports, granted by the MHA.

The move may result in an increase in passenger security fee since the CISF will be deployed at all the 98 airports across the country, said the official.

Set up as a cell in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in 1978, after an Indian Airlines flight was hijacked in September 1976, BCAS was reorganised as an independent department under the MoCA on April 1, 1987, as a follow-up to the Kanishka bombing in June 1985. It is currently headed by a commissioner of security.

In 2012, the then UPA government moved a proposal to set up an exclusive Aviation Security Force (ASF), under the control of BCAS, to replace CISF at airports, following the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s recommendation. However, the proposal was rejected by the NDA government, which decided to strengthen the CISF instead.

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Cabinet approves Rs7 trillion road construction plan, including Bharatmala

India announced an outlay of Rs6.92 trillion for building an 83,677 km road network over the next five years.

The largest ever outlay for road construction comes in the backdrop of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government implementing the goods and services tax (GST) which aims to create a common market by dismantling inter-state tariff barriers. A robust road infrastructure will help in that direction.

The road construction push includes the Bharatmala Pariyojana with a Rs5.35 trillion investment to construct 34,800km of roads. In addition, Rs1.57 trillion will be spent on the construction of 48,877km of roads by the state-run National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and the ministry of road transport and highways.

To expedite the Bharatmala projects, apart from ministry of road transport and highways and state-run firms—NHAI and National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL)—even respective state public works departments (PWDs) will be roped in for timely execution. This in turn will generate 142 million man-days of jobs, the government said.

To give a boost to the ambitious plan, all future road projects such as economic corridors and coastal roads have been brought under its aegis. The other projects under the marquee scheme include roads providing international connectivity, border roads, roads connecting economically important nodes, green field expressways and the remaining National Highways Development Project (NHDP) works under the scheme launched in 1998 by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

India needs massive funding to bankroll its new integrated infrastructure programme, which involves building roads, railways, waterways and airports.

To fund the marquee Bharatmala scheme, Rs2.09 trillion will be raised as debt from the market, while Rs1.06 trillion in private investments is being targeted through public private partnerships. In addition, Rs2.19 trillion will be provided from Central Road Fund (CRF), Toll-Operate-Maintain-Transfer (TOT) projects and toll collections of NHAI.

The government is working on raising capital by monetizing the operational road assets of NHAI that have been built by public funding, a first in the country. The government expects a private investment potential of Rs34,000 crore from the monetization of these 82 operating highways under the TOT model.

For projects not covered under the Bharatmala programme, Rs97,000 crore will be provided by the CRF and Rs59,000 crore will be provided as gross budgetary support.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said projects such as Sagarmala and Bharatmala will prepare a strong base for infrastructure development, enabling a person to travel across the country on a single road.

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Railways may ask Finance Ministry to fund its share of Rail Safety Fund

The Ministry of Railways may ask the Finance Ministry to fund its share of the railway safety fund this year as the public utility is staring at an earnings shortfall of at least Rs.10,000 crore in 2017-18, sources said.

With earnings deficit, the Ministry of Railways may find it difficult to contribute its share towards the newly- constituted Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) – a dedicated fund for critical safety-related works, a Ministry official said on the condition of anonymity.

The Indian Railways’ income stood at ₹80,519 crore till September compared with Rs.76,405 crore till September last year. However, the actual income was 8.45% lower than the targeted earnings till September this year. The railways had set a target of earning Rs.1.88 lakh crore in 2017-18, against Rs.1.65 lakh crore in 2016-17.

The Finance Ministry is scheduled to meet officials of the Ministry of Railways on November 10 for pre-budget discussions to finalise the revised estimates for 2017-18 and budget estimates for 2018-19.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the setting up a special safety fund with a corpus of more than Rs.1 lakh crore over a period of five years in the 2017-18 Budget. According to the plan, while the Finance Ministry would contribute Rs.15,000 crore annually towards the fund, the Ministry of Railways would fund the balance Rs.5,000 crore every year.

In the first six months of the current financial year, the railways utilised a quarter of the safety fund as it had spent Rs.5,031 crore from the RRSK.

Although the railways’ passenger and goods earnings increased 4.5% and 8.4% respectively till September this year compared with last year, its sundry earnings declined sharply by 35.7% in this period.

Income from non-fare revenues, including land lease, advertising, PSU dividends and catering department, form part of the sundry earnings.

Minister for Railways Piyush Goyal said in an interview to The Hindu last month that the utility was willing to spend unlimited funds on safety, which would be a top priority for him. “In my working, there is no budget for safety. Whatever [fund] is required, we will spend,” he said.

The Finance Ministry has advised the Ministry of Railways to prioritise deploying RRSK funds on areas that reduce chances of human error and ensure training of safety staff.

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‘Ro-Ro’ ferry service in Gujarat

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday inaugurated the first phase of the ₹615 crore ‘roll-on-roll-off’ (Ro-Ro) ferry service between Ghogha in Saurashtra and Dahej in south Gujarat.

Key Facts:

At present passenger movement is enabled, vehicle movement is possible once the ferry service is fully operational.

This ferry service is a first of sorts, will save a lot of time and fuel as many people commute between these two regions frequently.

Government aims to develop coastal infrastructure, integrate transport sector and improve state-of- the art to augment steps towards blue economy

What is Blue Economy:

• It is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health. It encompasses many activities
• Renewable Energy : Sustainable marine energy can play a vital role in social and economic development,
• Fisheries : More fisheries can generate more revenue, more fish and help restore fish stocks
• Maritime Transport
• Tourism : Ocean and coastal tourism can bring jobs and economic growth
• Waste Management: Better management of land based litter will help the ocean recover
• Climate Change: Oceans are an important carbon sink and can mitigate climate change

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MoRTH to promote new technologies in highway projects

Road, Transport and Highways Ministry has decided to implement a Value Engineering Programme to promote new technologies and material in highway projects.

In an official release, the Ministry said, the programme is aimed at using innovative technology, materials and equipment to reduce the cost of projects and make them more environment-friendly.

It said the programme is expected to increase the speed of construction, reduce construction cost, increase asset durability and improve aesthetics and safety.

The Ministry also reconstituted a nine-member experts’ panel for approving proposals for use of new technologies, material and equipment.

The reconstituted panel is chaired by SR Tambe, former Secretary, PWD Maharashtra and co-chaired by Prof Ravi Sinha, IIT Mumbai.

The expert panel will examine all technical matters involving the new technologies, materials and equipment referred to it by the concerned Engineers or contractors.

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Raipur Airport Ranked First in Customer Satisfaction Index Survey

Raipur’s Swami Vivekananda Airport was once again ranked first in Customer Satisfaction among 49 airports in the country. Raipur Airport achieved 4.84 scores on a five point scale index in the latest CSI survey conducted by an independent agency for the period of January-June 2017, followed by Udaipur, Amritsar and Dehradun airports which have scored 4.75, 4.74 and 4.73 respectively.

Airport Authority of India makes continuous efforts to improve the services and passenger facilities at its airports, and this has placed it amongst the best service providers in the world. Customer Satisfaction is one of the key performance objectives of AAI which is evaluated through Customer Satisfaction Survey conducted by an independent agency commissioned by AAI.

The survey covers a wide range of parameters like transportation, parking, passenger facilities and cleanliness etc. The integrated terminal building of Raipur was inaugurated in 2012. High-level maintenance of infrastructure and passenger facilities, the green ambience, state-of -the- art technology and courteous staff ensuring passenger satisfaction has resulted in Raipur getting this recognition for the third consecutive time in the past two years.

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