The Japan International Cooperation Agency and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) signed a pact for capacity development for the maintenance of resilient mountainous highways. The initiative, which is a Technical Cooperation Project, aims at enhancing the institutional capacity of organizations concerned with the operation and maintenance of mountainous highways. Work on the project is expected to commence from April 2022, for which administrative approval was obtained on January 24, 2022.
MoRTH is primarily responsible for the development and maintenance of National Expressways and National Highways. As a part of the Bharatmala Plan (Phase 1), the Ministry pays special attention to highway development in the mountainous regions such as North Eastern Region, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh. The development of roads in mountainous areas is important in terms of improving connectivity within regions and border areas. Roads in mountainous areas are often composed of multiple civil engineering structures including bridges and tunnels, and proper maintenance is essential to maintain the road function as a network. In India, there is a scarcity of technical experts in the field of designing as well as in supervision of highway works including tunnels in hilly terrain, thus creating the need for capacity enhancement. Through this project, JICA will dispatch a long-term Japanese expert based in India and short-term experts from Japan who will support the development of handbooks for maintenance by utilizing Japanese knowledge and experience. As part of the project, training of personnel will be conducted both in India and Japan to share the Japanese experience.