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Indian roads cheap to lay

October 20, 2003 09:28 IST

Indian highways are among the cheapest in the world in terms of construction costs.

According to an Asian Development Bank estimate, the per kilometer cost of build-operate-transfer roads being constructed in the country is just half of that in Pakistan, which comes second in cost-efficiency in road building.

The Indian BOT sections included in ADB's project database are much cheaper than highway projects in Thailand, Indonesia and Philippines, and are almost 7,000 per cent cheaper than the highways in Hong Kong.

The average cost for the country's inter-urban links is around $1 million (around Rs 4.5 crore) per km.

While the inter-urban Coimbatore Bypass costs $1 million, the Baroda-Halol BOT project costs $ 0.9 million. An inter-urban link in Pakistan, the 340-km Islamabad-Lahore Motorway, comes close to this, costing $700 million, at the average cost of $2 million per km.

According to the data, Malaysia and Philippines are also fairly cost competitive, with the Ipoh-Lamut highway -- an inter-urban link in Malaysia -- and the South Luzon Expressway in Philippines, costing $ 2.8 million each.

Explaining the huge difference in comparative costs, experts said the cost effectiveness of Indian BOT projects was largely because of availability of cheap labour and lower material costs, even though road building in most other Asian countries was largely mechanised.

"Highway construction in India as part of the ongoing National Highways Development Project largely involved expansion of existing two-lane structures. Expressways constructed in places like Hong Kong and Malaysia involved complex designs, sometimes multi-tier structures, thereby entailing higher costs," an institutional source said.
Anil Sasi in New Delhi