The Government will encourage the local farmers or villagers to set up wayside amenities along the National Highways of the country at every 40 to 50 km, Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday. He unveiled the logo of the project Highway NEST and Highway Village in New Delhi.
Talking to reporters, the Minister said that the units will have features of basic needs like food court, drinking water, toilets, shops beside a fuel pump. The project, which will be facilitated by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), will be a relief for the travellers and truck drivers, who suffer from lack of wayside amenities. Besides it will help battle unemployment.
“The smaller units will be called NEST while the larger ones will be called Villages,” he added.
“Recognising lack of wayside amenities along the highways as we see in Germany, Europe and the US, we have decided to provide wayside amenities at every 50 km of length of National Highways, which will be developed through private participation,” said Gadkari.
Assessing the need of the commuters travelling across national highways, the Ministry has planned to develop these entities that will not only provide adequate rest and refreshment for different highway commuters such as car, buses and heavy vehicles but will offer area specific handicrafts by local artisans besides local food and fruits. Citing example, he said the travellers can get handpicked oranges from Nagpur, grapes from Nasik and apples from Himachal Pradesh.
Calling upon investors and people who have land along highways to join hands in the initiative, the Minister said at least 1,000 wayside entities are planned and land for 200 such spots is available with the NHAI, while the rest will be developed in collaboration with private land owners.
NHAI is in the process of developing entities at 183 locations out of which bids have been invited for 34 sites, while bids for another 30 sites will be invited by the end of August.
As per plan, the facilities having areas more than 5 acres shall be developed under the brand name ‘Highway Village’ and facilities on smaller area less than 5 acres shall be developed with brand name Highway Nest,” NHAI Chairman Deepak Kumar said.
Kumar said private land owners having minimum land area of more than one hectare abutting the National Highways can join hands with NHAI under the brand ‘Highway Nest’ for developing facilities as per standard layouts and designs.
Expression of interest from persons having land parcel of more than one hectare abutting National Highways will be invited by the NHAI between August 4 and September 21.
The franchise may select from the three customisable facility prototype, targeting specific road users that include passengers and heavy vehicle drivers, facility targeting passengers only and facility targeting truck drivers only.
Secretary of road transport and highways, Y S Malik said that the development of the wayside amenities would go a long way in making highway travel convenient for people. He said these wayside amenities will henceforth form an integral part of highways.