CHENNAI: With an odd exception or two, India’s national highways are presently dotted with fuel stations, motels, basic utility shops and other facilities considered essential for road users. Very often, each of them is separated by a great distance, thereby causing inconvenience to the travelling public. But that situation is likely to end very soon as the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has decided to set up wayside amenities complexes with all the required facilities.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has designed a policy for the development of standardised wayside amenities (WSA) on national highways at a distance of every 45-60 km. Under the first phase, WSAs are proposed to be developed on public-private partnership at 16 locations across the country, with two in Tamil Nadu. Both facilities are slated to come up on National Highway 7 at two different locations in Thoothukudi and Krishnagiri districts.
Speaking to Express, an NHAI official said WSAs, aimed at improving passenger convenience, are common in western countries. “When the National Highway Development Project was launched in 1998, WSAs came to light. But, apart from a few facilities developed either by oil marketing companies (who operate retail outlets) or the highway concessionaires, there has not been much focus on WSAs,” he said.
However, the NHAI has now been entrusted with the responsibility to develop WSAs on several identified highways.“The tenders for developing WSAs are currently open. The last date for bid submission by interested private parties is next month,” the official said.
A key feature of WSAs is that certain facilities like restrooms and parking lots will be segregated for truckers and other road users.
Another novel inclusion is the provision of space at WSAs for village haats or bazaars where artisans, farmers and local vendors shall be given earmarked space to market their products.