Monday, 20 June 2011



Till October 2006 I seldom gazed at road infrastructure. I did read about it in Current Affairs Wizard and Chronicle, it was called “Golden Quadrilateral “initiated by Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the then Prime Minister. My casual reading took a ‘U’ turn when I was posted to Member Audit Board, New Delhi, wherein I was asked to audit units associated with National Highways authority of India (NHAI). There I had the opportunity to read much about the contracts and its construction- infrastructure.
Incidentally, I happen to go through the weekly news bulletin of NHAI and I read something about “negative credit” - Contractors who were awarded Build Operate Transfer (BOT) contracts hand over a cheque of few thousand Crores to Government of India (GOI) for getting the contracts awarded as a goodwill payment. I kept pondering what was this?? For getting a contract awarded you pay an official bribe??

But truly, Contractors are scope- goats indeed, because the facilitation they do to cater to the Project Directors, Manager (Finances), Auditors are so heavy that they compensate them only be reducing the quality. This applies to contractors associated with all Public Works Department. Few contractors in Delhi, Bangalore & Hyderabad were under preview for not meeting the quality (hope the bridge collapses in Hyderabad and Delhi are still fresh in memory) but nothing was blow out of proportion and they were all saved. Against my expectation NHAI isn't seen on corruption board till today and all thanks to GOI for compromising on quality by receiving Negative Credit.

Despite all these I just admire the real work done by the contractors on National roads. Once Railways ran monopoly for any travel beyond 300 kms because of time and travel convenience but now buses ply and cover distances in shorter span than railways. For instance, 300 kms in 4.5 hours at ease – between Chennai  and  Trichy and 450 kms in 6.5 hrs between Mhow  & Aurangabad.  The roads are well highlighted by fluorescent paints almost thorough-out and nice white lines are drawn along the edges of roads so that buses don’t get off the lane on the left side and don’t hit the median on the  right.  Earlier the indications of interior villages used to be shown by an iron board, painted in yellow and black along the roadside and that too looked rusted and unclear but now the boards are big and are painted in fluorescent green and white and are just perfect direction indicators. In my yesteryears, I used to read in text books about the small-small villages but now just a ride down the lane helps me locate the pen-names of villages in our state. When I travel from the central district of the state i.e., from Trichy down to Madurai and beyond south, I see name of villages followed by “Patti”. Similarly when I ride towards Palani and Pollachi I see all “Pettai” and when the same is done towards Coimbatore and further north I come across “Palayams”.  The land topography was so aptly named but how many of us knew?  So Swami Vivekanda saying “Break the wall burn the books, throw the students away from classroom let them learn from the nature” is made a partial reality by the bump-less plastered road infrastructure of NHAI.

"All is well" till the edge of 2G/3G doesn’t creep into NHAI.  If the officials attached with NHAI take the already explored corruptions as a note of caution and act firm, India would sure meet World standards in infrastructure. 


  1. Good post. I loved the fishes and now the backdrop looks good. About the topic, interesting one, highways gleam now and we will soon be left with potholes, thanks to the GOI:(((

  2. Thanks for instant encouragement by you - Nivedita and then coming to potholes - NHAI roads are damn good and the bed they lay before plastering it is wonderful but is the life of it 10 yrs as contracted, is a BIG QUESTION?

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