Carefully crafted policy interventions not only unlocked huge investments but saw record awards for building 15,948 km highways in 2016-17, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has told the Prime Minister. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari thanked him for “guidance and careful attention” for a turnaround of the highways sector. Gadkari said performance in “2016-17 has surpassed all previous figures” with “issue of award letters, after completion of all pre-project formalities for 15,948 km, an increase of nearly 60 per cent”.
The ministry was able to substantially enhance the pace of construction of National Highways during the last fiscal. Against a total of 6,029 kms constructed during 2025-16, last fiscal saw an increase of 33 per cent with construction of 8,241 kms of National Highways, an official told PTI, quoting Gadkari’s letter to the Prime Minister. “The entire infrastructure sector had virtually come to a standstill when you had taken over as the PM in May 2014. The situation was particularly bad for the highways sector. As many as 73 projects involving a length of nearly 8,200 km were stalled, locking up investments worth Rs 1 lakh crore,” the letter noted.
Also, the shelf of projects ready for execution after appraisal and award had shrunk to unprecedented levels with works on only 3,169 km awarded during 2013-14. “Under your guidance and careful attention, we have managed to turn the sector around through a whole set of carefully crafted policy interventions, regular follow up with the banks and regular monitoring,” the letter said. In particular, the monthly PRAGATI exercises held “under your direct supervision” has really helped resuscitate a number of stalled projects, Gadkari said.
A recent analysis shows that of the 18 projects taken up for discussion, as many as 14 have seen full or substantial resolution of all the major issues, freeing close to 1,750 km of National Highways valued at nearly Rs 24,000 crore. The Prime Minister yesterday chaired a meeting here of Pro-Active Governance and Timely Implementation (PRAGATI), an ICT-based multi-modal platform to review the progress of sectors like highways and railways.
Modi has also underlined the need for a consolidated approach and adherence to strict timelines with regard to completion of infrastructure projects. In the highways sector, over 26,000 kms of four- or six- lane National Highways have been built in FY17, and the pace is improving, the Prime Minister was told in a review meeting earlier this week.