Bihar attracting major investments these days

Bihar is now attracting private funds for investment on major projects, a complete turnaround after six years of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s rule.

These investments are even more remarkable because two of these projects will be toll roads, where the operator has to be confident of his ability to collect toll, a confidence that was lacking during Lalu Yadav-led RJD’s 15-year reign.

That’s not all. Officials of the Bihar State Road Development Corporation now keep tabs on how projects are progressing using smartphones running Google’s Android OS, from their offices in district headquarters. Bihar is the first state in India to put mobile technology to this use.

Of the two private road projects, the first is a Rs 1,602-crore project to build a 5.5-km bridge across the river Ganga, connecting Bakhtiyarpur with Shahpur along with a four-lane 45.5 km approach road. The second is a Rs 917-crore project to widen the twolane road between Ara and Mohania into a four-lane one.

“These two projects will substantially improve connectivity in the state,” Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi said.

“Bihar isn’t what it used to be,” said Ullhas N Bhole, vicepresident, Atlanta Infrastructure, which has bagged the Ara-Mohania project.

Bihar has constructed 23,606 km of roads since 2006-07, apart from augmenting and repairing 1,657 km of national highways. All these projects involved annuity payments because private builders were not ready to build toll roads, fearing they wouldn’t be able to collect fees from users. “The law and order situation is good and we do not see any problems in collecting toll,” said Bhole.

“The Public-Private Partnership Approval Committee under the finance ministry has given its nod to the Ganga project,” a finance ministry official said. The project had to be approved by the finance ministry as it needed some viability gap funds from the Centre.

North Block will cough up Rs 277 crore for the Ganga bridge project. The request for quotation floated by the Bihar State Road Development Corp had received just four proposals in 2008. But this time, 16 private companies were willing to take up the project.