Building 20 km of road on national highways a day is still a distant dream for the UPA II government.
Four years after the then road minister Kamal Nath had announced the ambitious target, the National Highways Authority of India — the central agency which builds highways across the country – has managed to build just 8 km of highways per day during the financial year 2012-13 that ended on Sunday.
According to statistics made available by the NHAI, the agency was able to construct a little over 2900-km stretch in 2012-13. Though the figure is highest so far (see box), NHAI still has way to go before it is able to meet the 20-km-a-day target.
To achieve this, NHAI will not only have to award higher number of highway projects but will also have to build 7000 km stretch every year. Experts say it seems unlikely unless the highway agency augments its capacity.
RP Singh, NHAI chairman, however, said, “Our target was to build 3000 km. Our achievement is much better than expected and is the highest as compared to the previous years”.
But more than meeting its construction target, what has worried road ministry officials is the dismal achievement vis a vis awarding highway projects during 2012-13.
The NHAI has been able to award a little over 1,000 km stretch as on March 31 as against the original target of 9,500 km which was later scaled down to 6600 km.
Officials attribute this to a host of factors, including the prevailing market condition and delay in getting environment clearance.
“For the time being, we should live with this. There are a number of reasons — administrative such as delay in getting environment clearance, land acquisition etc. and market related which have been responsible for dismal award figures,” BK Chaturvedi, Planning Commission member (infrastructure) told HT.
While NHAI has been able to build 2900 km highways during 2012-13, the road ministry has been able to build an additional 2900 km as part of its various non national highway development projects.
These include providing connectivity to the naxal-affected areas and the North-East region. Chaturvedi is holding a meeting to review the progress of road projects on April 3.