The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is confident of exceeding the targets set by the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) for the current fiscal despite its failure to meet targets for construction and awards of highways during the first quarter of FY18. “Whatever the target the government sets for us, we will achieve that, and perhaps, we will exceed them by the end of the current fiscal,” NHAI’s newly-appointed chairman Deepak Kumar told FE. The MoRTH has assigned the NHAI with the mammoth task of awarding 10,000 km and constructing 6,000 km highway length for the current fiscal. However, during the April-June period, it could construct 670 km and award 165 km, lower than the internal targets for awards of 1,150 km and 183 km of construction during the same period.
Kumar said though both construction and awards were lagging, mainly because of the problems related to land acquisition and court cases, activities will gain momentum in the next two-three months as the authority has put in place a system through which it connects with the states and project officers almost on a daily basis for monitoring. It has also appointed retired officials in the office of the land acquisition at various states at its own cost. Funds are not constraint for projects roll-out and execution, he said.
The NHAI does not award any project unless it acquires 90% of required land. The authority now has around 270 highway projects, aggregating at around 11,000 km under various stages of implementation. Of this, EPC accounts for about 4,700 km, HAM 3,000 km, BOT (annuity) 400 km and BOT (toll) 2,500 km. The NHAI was asked to construct 8,000 km highways and award 10,000 km of highway projects by the MoRTH for 2016-17. However, it could construct only 2,628 km and award 4,345 km highway length. Keen on constructing highways at an average pace of 41 km a day for the current fiscal, minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari has directed all executing authorities to work expeditiously.
Of the overall target of 15,000 km construction and 25,000 km project award targets set by the minister for 2017-18, 2,269 km have been constructed and 1,068 km have been awarded till June by all the constituents including MoRTH, which has taken upon itself to award 13,000 km highway projects and construct 8,142 km highway length in the current financial year. Besides the NHAI and MoRTH, which does the work through state PWDs, the National Highways Infrastructure and Development Corporation is engaged in construction of national highways.