The pace of building highways accelerated to 20.80 km a day in the April-August period of 2017-18 from 7.36 km a day in the same period last fiscal, but fell short of 22.3 km per day achieved in 2016-17. The marginal slowing of construction is partly attributable to the onset of monsoon, officials said, adding a definite acceleration would be visible from October. Of course, the ambitious target of constructing highways at a pace of 41 km/day continues to be ungettable. With a solid portfolio of awarded projects, the NHAI has put the brakes on new awards which shrank 41% year-on-year to 1,662 km during the April-August period.
The ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) has set itself a target to award 25,000 km in 2017-18 after clocking an all-time high of 16,036 km last fiscal. While MoRTH awarded 1,347 km projects in April-August this fiscal, the NHAI awarded 315 km only. During the same period last fiscal, MoRTH had awarded 1,210 Km, NHAI 1,516 Km and NHIDCL, the remaining 101 km.
Ministry sources said problems in land acquisition, delays in utility shifting and even non-availability of workers have been coming in the way of awarding the projects. They, however, added the construction would outpace the last year’s average in the current year with several projects awarded in the last few years having reached the construction phase now and their “better monitoring” by the ministry and the NHAI.
Of the 3,121-km highway projects built in the first five months of the current fiscal, 2,122 km have been constructed by MoRTH and state PWDs, 972 km by NHAI and NHIDCL the remaining 27 km.
In the last fiscal, the Nitin Gadkari-led ministry kept the target for construction at 15,000 km, but only 8,142 km could be built, averaging at an all-time high pace of 22.3 km per day.