Dubbing the road transport and highways ministry’s target to award 25,000-km highways for the current fiscal ‘hypothetical’, a parliamentary standing committee has suggested the Nitin Gadkari-led ministry to set goals that can be achieved within the stipulated time-frame. “The committee recommends that the targets for awarding the construction should commensurate with the completion of length of road which can be achieved within the time frame instead of setting up a hypothetical target,” the parliamentary standing committee on transport, tourism and culture, headed by Mukul Roy, said in the report tabled in Parliament recently. Breaching all previous tally, the roads ministry had awarded 15,948-km highway projects last fiscal, though the target was 25,000 km. It has kept the current fiscal’s target intact at 25,000 km.
Replying to the panel’s observation, the ministry said: “The targets for construction and award are fixed, keeping in the balance ongoing works, the progress and the likely completion targets of ongoing works, available outlay, etc.” The total length of NH network as on date is 1,14,672 km. The ministry has already approved in principle a length of about 50,000 km as new national highways subject to outcome of detailed project reports (DPRs).
Stating that the road ministry has also fallen behind on many projects due to land acquisition, environment clearance and poor performance by contractors, it urged that the ministry must foresee the likely problems and find out the solution beforehand. The road ministry constructed 8,231-km highways last fiscal and set 15,000-km target for the current fiscal. The panel also suggested that the ministry put in extra effort to achieve the target it has set for construction of roads for 2017-18. The government has taken a series of steps to stimulate growth and magnitude of investment in the roads sector. It has made exit for developers easy. It holds regular meetings with the project developers and states to make the construction of projects hassle-free.
The panel also felt that an effective coordination mechanism among the ministries of culture, tourism, civil aviation and road transport & highways is needed in order to ensure that the places of tourist and cultural importance are integrated seamlessly with well-connected roads and airports and are provided with required facilities like budget hotels, taxis, souvenir shops, restaurants etc. It wants road transport and highways ministry to coordinate in formulating an action plan with other ministries in this regard and make the tourism ministry to be the nodal ministry for this.