In sync with plan to construct highways at an average clip of 41 km per day in 2017-18, minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday unveiled awards to senior officials for walking the extra mile and actualising the target. Last year, the ministry could achieve just over half of the target set. Taking part in a day-long meeting to discuss the target for the current fiscal and take stock of the 2016-17 performance, Gadkari said that there will be an awards for the best-performing project director and regional officer, those who are responsible with the execution of the projects.
Gadkari had set the same 41 k per day or 15,000 km of highways construction target for the last fiscal, but 8,231 km (22.5 km per day) could be built in 2016-17. Delays in getting clearances, acquisition of land, appointment of independent engineers and other factors came in the way even as he took various steps to address the private investment famine in the sector.
However, apart from the continued torpor in private investments, build–operate–transfer (BOT) projects have barely kicked off and the hybrid annuity model that mitigates developers’ risk too has seen only moderate success.
The minister, who has received flak from various quarters as his targets faltered, said that problems, if any, needed to be solved beforehand as he would not entertain any excuse from anybody at the end of the year, he said to senior officers at a review meeting in New Delhi.
“I am giving you the target. If you face any problem, share now. Don’t give me excuses at the end of the year,” Gadkari was quoted as saying by a senior officer present in the review meeting. Sources said the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been asked to execute 8,000 km of highways for the current fiscal, while the rest would be done by his ministry with support from state public works departments (PWDs) and NHIDCL.
On the award front also, the target has been kept at the last year’s level of 25,000 km. Last fiscal, a record of 16,271 km of national highways were awarded. He said work needs to be done at a much faster pace to award more projects and construct those that have been awarded.
Referring to the problem of land acquisition as one of the hurdles in implementation of projects, Gadkari called for positive cooperation with the concerned state governments to tackle the issue. He also called for expeditious resolution of issues like forest clearances.