New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) Travelling on the highways is set to be a smoother and more interesting affair — a la ‘Rajmarg villages’ based on the concept of rest areas — at every 50 km that will be equipped with plush motels, bazaar, branded restaurants, fuel stations, kids’ playground, and in some places, a helipad.
According to a plan being finalised by the Road Transport and Highways Ministry, the Rajmarg villages would cater to car and bus passengers as well as truckers.
The ministry has worked out three options – a combined facility for truckers and bus and car passengers which will also have a provision of helipad — a separate one for “bus and car users” and one for “truckers.”
A ministry official told IANS that 425 sites along highways are being earmarked of which 167 are being considered for development of such wayside villages.
Of the 167, 33 sites have already been identified. These include seven in Bengaluru on NH-4, NH-63, NH-13 and NH-7; six sites in Chennai — on NH-7, 49 and 205 and six sites around Lucknow along NH-2, NH-28 and NH-25.
Five such sites have been identified for Bhopal, two each in Mumbai, Jaipur, Patna and Thiruananthpuram and one in Hyderabad.
Land for 78 sites is already under possession of the NHAI while for 19 sites additional land is required.
For 44 sites, land acquisition is under process, while for 12 sites it is ready to be leased, an official said.
Besides necessary facilities like toilets and parking, these halting or resting points will also offer recreational options for weary travellers and provide options for a short stay.
Besides, CNG stations and battery chargers will also be there to promote environment-friendly vehicles on highways.
Internet facilities, conference halls for meetings, child care facilities, kiosks, ATMs and First Aid Centres would also be available.
“The idea is not only to provide various facilities in close proximity but to also generate local employment. These will be well planned roadside villages which will offer a pleasant experience to the traveller,” an official said.
The ministry has assigned the task to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and to the Indian Highways Management Company Limited (IHMCL) to develop these facilities, the official added.
IHMCL has already engaged a Project Management Consultant (PMC) to prepare the detailed Project Report of these amenities.
The PMC has already submitted a feasibility report and site specific designs for the 33 sites.
“These 33 sites are being evaluated to check their financial viability as bids will be invited for each site. The bidding process is expected to commence within this month,” the official said.
(Brajendra Nath Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)