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Moradabad bypass operational

P. Manoj

The Moradabad bypass is touted as a successful example of the public-private partnership.

MORADABAD, July 3

A NEW two-lane bypass built in Moradabad city on NH-24, which eases congestion and cuts travel time between Delhi and Lucknow, has started commercial operations, offering one more demonstration of the highway revolution taking place in the country.

The fully access-controlled bypass is expected to boost the fortunes of the `brass city' of Moradabad, a business, commercial and administrative hub of Uttar Pradesh and a major export centre for high quality brass and metal giftware.

Built at a total cost of Rs 103.50 crore, the 18.4-km bypass with two lanes and hard shoulders is expected to cater to a traffic volume of 30,000 to 35,000 passenger car units (PCUs) daily.

The bypass was formally inaugurated by Mr B.C. Khanduri, Minister for Road Transport & Highways, at a function here on Tuesday. The first phase of the bypass stretching 8 km, intersecting at Sanmbhal-Chandausi road, has already commenced operations and is raking in a toll revenue of about Rs 1.5 lakh a day, Mr Hardeepak Singh, Member (Finance), National Highways Authority of India, told Business Line.

"When the full bypass consisting of a 10.4-km second phase is open to traffic, we hope to collect a revenue of Rs 2.5 lakh per day which is a reasonably good sum to repay the debt,'' said Mr Singh, who is also Chairman of Moradabad Toll Road Company Limited, the special purpose vehicle floated by NHAI to construct, operate and maintain the project for a 30-year period.

The Moradabad bypass is touted as a successful example of the public-private partnership wherein NHAI has leveraged its equity contribution of Rs 26.55 crore to borrow funds from the market.

The Infrastructure Development Finance Company and the State Bank of India contributed a long-term loan of Rs 40 crore and Rs 32.45 crore respectively to fund the project.

The bypass was financed on a project recourse basis whereby the revenues from the project in the form of tolls collected from the users would be utilised to service the debt and repay the loan amount.

It also marks the first time that a construction contractor (UP State Bridge Corporation) has invested funds in the form of equity of Rs 4.50 crore in a highway project. For UPSBC, an established player in the construction of bridges, this was a maiden foray into highway construction.

"Considering the time-frame in which UPSBC has completed the project, we think they have done an excellent job,'' Mr Singh noted.

Travelling at 110 km per hour, the first phase of 8 km of the project could be traversed in a matter of a few minutes. No wonder then that the local traffic of cars and jeeps have also started using the facility by paying a toll fee of Rs 10 till the interchange at Sambhal/ Chandausi road.

For those using the first phase of the bypass, MTRCL has fixed a toll fee of Rs 10 for car or jeep, Rs 15 for light commercial vehicles, Rs 35 for bus or truck and Rs 45 for multi-axle vehicles. For the entire bypass, the toll fee per trip is Rs 20 for car or jeep, Rs 30 for LCVs, Rs 65 for bus or truck and Rs 85 for MAVs. The toll fee is linked to the wholesale price index and can be revised annually.

The task of collecting tolls is currently being carried out by a group of ex-Servicemen. "We propose to appoint an operation and maintenance contractor who will help us in the task of toll collection as well,'' Mr Deepak Dasgupta, Chairman, NHAI, said.

NHAI is ready to add two more lanes and make it into a four-lane facility if the traffic volumes warrant it. "The cost of constructing two additional lanes should be neutralised through increase in traffic and a proportional rise in toll revenues,'' Mr Singh said.

Moradabd may just be a dot on the highway map of the country, but for the 13,000-km long National Highways Development Project, it could well be a larger link to connect people and places and for facilitating commerce and trade.

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