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NHAI may rope in private sector specialists

In an attempt to make India's road and highways development programme more efficient, the ministry of road transport & highways is re-examining a proposal, which was approved by the Centre in 2009, to restructure National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). Moushumi Das Gupta reports.

business Updated: Jun 13, 2011 22:26 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta

In an attempt to make India's road and highways development programme more efficient, the ministry of road transport & highways is re-examining a proposal, which was approved by the Centre in 2009, to restructure National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

As part of this, the ministry wants to bring in "specialists" -if required from the private sector - instead of bureaucrats who at present occupy a majority of the senior posts at NHAI. "We are re-looking at the restructuring proposal," said CP Joshi, road transport minister. "We want to make it more broad based. Like, bringing in financial analysts who can give their inputs on the viability of new projects. There has to be proper financial planning."

The ministry is also looking at amending the rules to open the post of NHAI chairman to technocrats. Till now, only bureaucrats are eligible to apply to the post. "Like Delhi Metro, we are looking at having a technocrat to head NHAI," said Joshi.

The organisation has been running without a full time head since January after chairman Brijeshwar Singh retired.

In 2010-11, the ministry for the third consecutive year was able to construct roughly 5 km of roads per day. It had originally targeted to complete 20 km of roads per day.

"To keep pace with the rapid technological advancements, there is a growing need to have experts in the sector. Like financial analysts who can give their inputs on the viability of new projects. There has to be proper financial planning," said Joshi.

Restructuring of NHAI was one of the issues that came up during the Prime Minister's review of the performance of the road sector on June 8. The PM had directed the ministry to quickly implement NHAI's restructuring plan and fill all vacant posts in the authority.