International research and consulting firm Ecorys has been granted an Award of Excellence for the strategic support it provided in the area of transport to the Government of Bihar in India.
With a population of just under 105 million inhabitant, Bihar is the third most populated state of India, although the state ranks 13th in terms of geographic size. Last year the Government of Bihar received a loan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to improve its state highway network (around 7,000 km-long), a move which, according to the ADB, will benefit the state's long run economic and social development.
As part of the funding, Bihar’s road construction department developed a ‘Bihar Road Master Plan 2035’ that considers a road strategy for the next 20 years. In doing so, Bihar State Road Development Corporation (BSRDC), a wing of the road construction department that has been tasked with executing the project, called on the expertise of several external advisors. The consortium was led by Ecorys, a Netherlands based consulting firm, and further consisted of SNC Lavalin (an international player) and ICRA Management Consulting Services (an Indian consultancy). The consultants were primarily tasked with providing Technical Assistance (TA), which included identifying major district roads that need to be upgraded to state highway status for better intra-state connectivity, analysis of traffic density and prioritisation of improvements initiatives.
The advisors were also asked to develop a software system that facilitates the execution of the road upgrade works. Together with an Indian team of experts (transport planners Shalini Sinha, GNP Raju and Vivek Yadav, CPS expert Nikita Bakuni and economist Amaresh Kumar Gupta), five experts* from Ecorys led the development of a tool that identifies and proposes roads that need to be upgraded. Along the development journey, more than 150 surveys were carried out, among commuters, inhabitant and state officials, as well as business representatives, among others.
Once the ‘Bihar Road Master Plan 2035’ is fully in place by 2035, it will have resulted in a doubling of the state highway network, and further includes 30 bypasses, 100 road over-bridges and 10 river bridges. The economic impact is assessed to be significant, says BSRDC deputy general manager Alok Kumar: “Transport contribution to GDP would be 5%, around 25,000 workers would be employed every day for 20 years during the construction, local firms would benefit during construction, agriculture market linkages would improve and travel would be faster and smoother.” In addition, the transition would lead to less accidents and there would be environmental benefits too. “All this would require around Rs 1 lakh crore investment [€13.2 billion] in the next 20 years,” he adds.
The project was formally finished in November 2015, and now finds itself in the implementation phase. Six months down the line the project team has received a prestigious prize for its work – on April 25th, Ecorys India Managing Director M.S. Prakash received an Award of Excellence from Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar, for the high quality of the work delivered. “The prize signals the important role Ecorys plays in assisting the Indian transportation sector as well as other policy sectors and public bodies,” comments M.S. Prakash.
* Marten van den Bossche (Ecorys Netherlands), M.S. Prakash, Rohan Krishna, Tarun Sharma, Vandna Sharma and Arun Sharma (all Ecorys India; based in New Delhi).