At a time when highway development has hit a slump — with the road ministry managing to award a little over 800 km stretch this fiscal against a target of 7,700 km — the forthcoming Budget is also not likely to bring any cheer to the sector.
Under pressure to reign in the gaping fiscal deficit, the finance ministry has indicated that it is not going to hike allocation to the highways sector in the 2013-14 Budget.
Sources said against a demand of Rs.26,000 crore, the finance ministry is likely to allocate a little over Rs.23,400 crore to the road ministry.
In the last budget (2012-13) also, the ministry was allocated Rs.23,000 crore which was later pruned to Rs.18,292 crore in the revised estimate.
"No hike would mean that all proposed new road expansion projects would be dropped. We have been told that no allocation has been made for new schemes," said a road ministry official.
In any case, the ministry has been able to build just about 7 km of roads per day during the current financial year as against the target of 20 km per day.
The projects to be hit includes road development in remote tribal and backward areas for which the ministry had proposed to spend Rs.50,000 crore during the 12th plan and port connectivity programme, which would have linked over 30 minor ports and airports with highways.
Officials said a bulk of the over Rs.23,000 crore that is likely to be allocated in 2013-14 would go towards completing approved schemes under the National Highway Development Programme.
This includes developing 7,000 km of single lane roads to two lanes. During the 12th Plan period (2012-2017), the ministry intends to upgrade 20,000 km of single of single lane roads to two lanes.