Golden Quadrilateral Highway Network, India
Golden Quadrilateral is a network of highways connecting India's four top metropolitan cities, namely Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata, thereby, forming a quadrilateral. The largest highway project in India, the Golden Quadrilateral project was launched in 2001 as part of National Highways Development Project (NHDP).
The overall length of the quadrilateral is 5,846km consisting of four / six lane express highways. The project was estimated to cost INR600bn ($13.2bn) but was completed at about half of the estimated costs, at INR308.58bn. The whole length of the quadrilateral was operational by January 2012.
An efficient road network is essential for a large country like India to maintain national integration and socio-economic development. India has a large network of highways maintained by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).
These highways altogether account for just two percent of the country's total road infrastructure but they carry 40% of the total national traffic.
NHAI's Golden Quadrilateral project
The Golden Quadrilateral project is phase one of the NHDP. It establishes transportation links between major cities of India, such as New Delhi, Jaipur (Rajasthan), Gandhinagar (Gujarat), Mumbai and Pune (Maharashtra), Bangalore (Karnataka), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh), Bhubaneswar (Orissa), Kolkata (West Bengal) and Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh).
The Golden Quadrilateral has four sections. Section I is a 1,454km stretch of National Highway 2 (NH2) from Delhi to Kolkata. It runs through Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. It connects major cities in these states, such as Delhi, Faridabad, Mathura, Agra, Firozabad, Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi.
Section II is a 1,684km stretch from Kolkata to Chennai. It consists of NH6 (Kolkata to Kharagpur), NH60 (Kharagpur to Balasore) and NH5 (Balasore to Chennai). It passes through the states of West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Section III is a 1,290km stretch from Chennai to Mumbai. It constitutes parts of NH4 (Mumbai to Bangalore), NH7 (Bangalore to Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu) and NH46 (Krishnagiri to nearby Chennai). It passes through Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Section IV is a 1,419km stretch between Mumbai and Chennai. It constitutes parts of NH 8 (Delhi to Kishangarh), NH 79A (Ajmer bypass), NH 79 (Nasirabad to Chittaurgarh) and NH 76 (Chittaurgarh to Udaipur). It passes through the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and New Delhi. It connects major cities which include Delhi, Gurgaon, Jaipur, Ajmer, Udaipur, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Surat and Mumbai.
Planning and construction of the highway network connecting India's main cities
The planning for the Golden Quadrilateral project was completed in 1999. It included construction of a few new express highways and extension of the existing road to four or six lanes. The project was officially started in 2001.
It was planned for completion by 2006, but land acquisition issues and renegotiations with contractors delayed the progress of the project. The project was almost complete by January 2012, with a few smaller sections being renovated.
Contractors and financing behind the major Indian road project
Being a huge project, the construction of the Golden Quadrilateral was divided into several sections based on the state provinces. Construction contracts for each section were individually awarded.
Major contractors involved in the project are Larsen & Toubro, LG Engg. & Construction, Nagarjuna Construction, Consortium of GVK International and BSCPL, IRCON International, Punj Lloyd, Progressive Construction, ECSB-JSRC, B. Seenaiah & Co., Madhucon Projects, Sadbhav Engg., KMC Construction, Gujarat Public Works Department, SKEC - Dodsal, MSRDC, Mumbai, Skanska Cementation India, Hindustan Construction Company, RBM - PATI, Unitech, CIDBI Malaysia and PATI - BEL.
The financing for the project is obtained from the taxes on petrol and diesel, which accounts to INR200bn, INR200bn through external assistance, INR100bn from market borrowings and INR40bn from private sector participation.
The project has been executed through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) between the NHAI and the corresponding contractors.
The contractors will collect the toll taxes for a specified concession period.
Future plans for the Golden Quadrilateral and the NHDP
Some sections between key areas on the highways NH2, NH5 and NH8 of the Golden Quadrilateral are planned to be extended to six lanes to make it an expressway and ensure smooth flow of traffic. The extension will be done on a design, finance, build and operate basis.
In September 2011, infrastructure group GMR won an Rs72bn ($1.4bn) contract from the NHAI to widen the 555km Kishangarh-Udaipur-Ahmedabad highway from four lanes to six.
The section forms part of the Delhi-Mumbai Golden Quadrilateral corridor. The company will construct about 3,336 lane kilometres and operate the highway for 26 years under the design, finance, build and operate concession.