L&T on the highway to history

Chitra Narayanan In Panipat recently | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on February 07, 2011

Building a brand: Mr. Monaj Dave, Head-Operations & Maintenance (Roads) L&T at the Panipat Hi Pass. Pic: Kamal Narang   -  Business Line

Think Panipat and you think battlefields. But for Larsen &Toubro, which has built the 9.3-km long elevated stretch on National Highway 1 branded as Panipat Hi Pass, the battle is all about winning the hearts of the residents of the city that the “designer road” literally spans.

For the last few days, during its annual Panipat Hi Pass Cultural festival, the concessionaire company has been taking residents on heritage walks to the famed battlefields, conducted a clean-city drive, organised a debate and painting fest among school children, and staged a street play on honour killings – a theme that resonates with the historic Haryana city.

All this is part of an engagement journey that the company started with Panipat's residents over two years ago, when the hi-tech toll stretch got completed, cutting travel time from Delhi to Chandigarh by 45 minutes. “We knew we would be here for the next 17 years as the concessionaire company – so we just didn't want to stop at building the road,” says Mr Manoj Dave, Head, Operations and Maintenance (Roads), L&T Infrastructure Development Projects. In some ways, an engagement effort was also needed, as the road had to be built smack over the city causing some discomfort during the construction stages.

First step was to brand the road. “The road is neither a bypass, nor a flyover, but literally a high pass – that's why the name Panipat Hi Pass, which we hope will get shortened to Panipat Hi,” says Mr Dave. The smart cards and signage, and the fleet of maintenance cars, all carry the brand name with images of the most distinctive features of the road – in this case, the fancy wing-shaped street lights.

The tag line of the road is ‘Elevating Standards', which is what the company is now attempting to do in the city by addressing civic issues. “We want the citizens to participate equally in infrastructure development not forgetting the past and yet addressing new concerns on environment and other issues,” says Mr Dave, explaining why they chose to go the cultural route.

Jingle all the way

The stretch has also got a jingle for itself. During the initial run, in fact, motorists were gifted a CD with a medley of journeying songs including the Panipat Hi Pass jingle “ Naye safar ka Karo Ehsaas (Get a feel of the new journey). Get on Get on Panipat Hi Pass,” goes the lilting number.

Spurred by the Panipat experience L&T has also branded its Vadodara-Bharuch highway stretch on NH-8 in Gujarat as well. Called VB Superway, it has also got a jingle. For some of its other road projects – which includes the Chennai-Tada tollway - too it might consider such an effort.

Of course, there is an economic angle too – the more the users, the more the toll revenue for the concessionaire company. Currently, an average of 28,000 paying vehicles pass through the Panipat Hi Pass stretch daily.

Long ago, it was in Panipat that Babar with a small force defeated Ibrahim Lodi's mighty army and laid the foundation of the Mughal empire. For L&T, even if it doesn't quite become the emperor of the highways, the hope is that its historic engagement effort started off at Panipat will make it the most recalled highway brand in India.

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Published on February 07, 2011
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