The Minister of Road Transport and railways, Nitin Jairam Gadkari issued answers in the Rajya Sabha on February 8, 2021. These answers were in response to questions pertaining to the adoption of National Highways (NHs) by technical institutes and engineering colleges. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) introduced a reform to establish an association with prestigious technical institutes across the country. The primary aim is to boost the spread of expertise and knowledge about civil or highway engineering on various national Highway projects.
NHAI has initiated the association with engineering colleges approved by IITs, NITs, and AICTE. Subsequently, it has also inked the initial stages of the initiative with 200 technical institutes in the country. The initiative primarily aims to encourage institutes to adopt stretches of national highways on a voluntary basis. These highway stretches shall be used as a field of study for faculty members and researchers. Furthermore, they can also be used to help students of those institutes to get accustomed to the latest trends thriving in the industry.
The minister further clarified the number of institutes that have so far, participated in the initiative. A total of 18 IITs, 27 NITs and 207 other notable engineering colleges have given their consent for the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Out of over 250 institutes have agreed to sign the MoU.
The initiatives introduced are aimed at bridging the gap between institutes and the industry, as envisioned by the PM Narendra Modi, as stated by the concerned ministry. Under these provisions, the on-board institutes shall study improvement aspects with respect to safety, maintenance, utilization of newer technologies, driving comfort, etc on the adopted stretches. They shall also be asked to provide suitable solutions to the NHAI to implement.
Institutes shall team-up with the NHAI while conceptualising, designing and preparing for upcoming projects. They shall also get to suggest relevant parameters to consider and innovations based entirely on experience. However, they must be specific to the climatic conditions, resource availability and potential, topography, etc. All these efforts to be undertaken for better socio-economic results clarified the NHAI.
The ministry’s initiative shall create a sense of contribution among the student community in constructing the local infrastructure. NHAI is also going to offer internships to 20 undergraduate and 20 postgraduate students of the participant institutes each year. The internship shall last for a period of 2 months and a stipend of Rs. 8,000 shall be given to undergraduate students per month. A stipend of Rs.15000 shall be awarded to postgraduate students per months during the internship.
NHAI shall also aid in establishing lab infrastructure in the institutes. There is a possibility that the ministry shall also sponsor research projects relevant to the field. These projects, however, must deal in utilising alternate resource material and improving road quality, NHAI stated.