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Ministers visit India to win work for UK

HIGHWAYS AGENCY chief executive Lawrie Haynes is this week travelling to India with Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott to help the British construction industry win a slice of the nation's planned £8bn road improvement programme.

The Indian government announced the massive, mainly World Bank-financed spending programme in December. Work is expected to start in 2000 and continue until 2007.

The programme will see a network built around the edge of India with new north-south and east-west routes. It will include around 5,200km of single lane road widened to two lanes, 14,000km of two-lane roads widened to four lanes, another 15,000km of highway widened and improved, 40 bypasses around towns and 475 bridges.

'If you just put that into the context of Britain or Europe the amount of expert labour required for that scale of building would be immense - in India they need international experience,' says Haynes.

He said the Indian government had been impressed with the British approach to road construction, particularly its project management, value engineering and work under the PFI.

He added that he had already urged the government to increase the size of contracts from the traditional 20km maximum.

See Analysis page 11

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