The Central government’s autonomous wing, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), has initiated the construction of the Wayside Amenities (WSA) megaproject as a part of the government’s cluster undertaking that involves the modernisation and digitalisation of the country’s national highways. The project integrates Information Technology and commercialisation with the highway sector.
The Honourable Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Shri Nitin Gadkari, had informed in an earlier Press release that the Union government, in a bid to transform the commuters’ experience, was planning to lay an arterial network of highway amenities that included Electronic Toll Collection systems, Incident Management Systems, and Wayside Amenities. The cluster project has been assigned to the NHAI’s eminent officer and Chief General Manager, Shir Akhilesh Srivastava, who is also the in-charge of the Highway Operation Division, a separate department created for the handling of the cluster projects.
The NHAI has already secured several tender bids from both private and government parties and has begun this megaproject. According to the government, the overarching purpose of providing Wayside Amenities was to provide safe stoppage points to all highway commuters at frequent intervals with required amenities during their journey.
The key objectives of the Wayside Amenities project – which is being constructed at 183 locations along the country’s national highways, are:
To reduce accidents on highways
To generate employment
To reduce crime against commuters
To increase the safety on the highways
The Centre accorded the Wayside Amenities through franchise model called public-private partnership, in which private landowners will be developing the project on private as well as NHAI-owned lands with the government acting as the facilitator. This model has been chosen by the Centre because the availability of land with the NHAI and the amount of money in the public treasury are limited. Collaborating with private owners has allowed the Centre to avail the required sizes of land and reduce the burden on the Indian taxpayer and giving opportunities to the public to make a contribution to develop the nation’s infrastructure.
The NHAI is building three types of structures under the Wayside Amenities megaproject. They are:
Highway Nest (Mini)
Highway Village
Highway Nest
The Highway Village is being constructed to accommodate facilities like large parking lots, vehicle service and repair centres, restaurants, motels and dormitories, medical aid, conference room, convention centre, fuel stations, telephone towers, helipad, and much more. The idea behind it is to provide a safe halting point to the passengers and truckers. The NHAI is developing this project through the public-private partnership model and has acquired lands on the desired locations. In order to construct these Highway Village, the NHAI had called for bids from the private parties who will develop them in the set prototype, designed by the NHAI.
The Highway Nest is being built on 1,000 locations along national highways mainly for passengers. It will include several basic facilities which are provided in the Highway Village but on a smaller scale. The Nest also was modelled on the PPP structure, but here the NHAI is not acquiring lands instead they had asked landowners/farmers with the land area of two acres and more to develop these facilities with NHAI helping them to get all the required permissions and play the part of a facilitator. Both Village and Nest are, according to the government, being built not only for promoting a safe experience to commuters but also for transforming the livelihoods of the farmers and other landowners on highways by giving them an opportunity to develop and turn their properties into commercial hubs. These projects will also generate employment for local artisans, farmers, and others.
The Highway Nest (Mini) is being constructed at Toll gates on the national highways. It is a much smaller version of the Nest and will house only basic necessities such as drinking water, toilets, ATMs, kiosks for packaged food, parking space.
Besides these projects, the NHAI is also going construct record-breaking 10,000 km of highway roads in this financial year.
The NHAI has integrated advanced technology such as industrial drones and satellites for monitoring the cluster project. The highways organisation has also digitalised its national highway assets records by creating Roads Asset Management System (RAMS) to optimise the resources for better operation and maintenance.

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