Government organisations engaged in road construction, including the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), have been warned their projects will be taken away from them if they are not completed on schedule, a senior minister has said. “I want to make it clear to BRO and other organisations involved in road construction that wherever (they) complete road construction work as per the standard and within the timeframe, they will get more work. However, I also want to make it clear that wherever they are not able to perform or delay beyond the targeted time, we will take away the work from them,” Union Transport and Roadways Minister Nitin Gadkari told IANS in an interview. He said there were road projects, including several with the BRO, pending for over 15 years.
Gadkari, who is also Minister for Shipping, said that the government had taken several initiatives for improving road connectivity as it was crucial for boosting incomes and improving the country’s GDP growth. Asked if National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), a state-owned company that was set up in 2014, was performing well, Gadkari said: “Absolutely, they are doing well as of now.” “However, if they lag (in) quality, then they too will meet the same fate,” he said.
Many of projects delayed by BRO are being handed over to NHIDCL. A cabinet document circulated to central ministries and seen by IANS notes that the BRO is overstretched and has been given work beyond its capacity and mandate. Some of the delayed projects include the 220-km-long National Highway (NH)-53 in Manipur. The delay has caused escalation to Rs 1,600 crore ($247 million) from Rs 1,100 crore, the document noted. Another project is the 126-km NH-39 between Imphal and Kohima, which has been pending since 2011.
Other delayed projects include the Ukhrul-Toloi-Tadubi section of NH-102A in Manipur and improvement of the Aizwal-Tuipang section in Mizoram. Stating that stringent action will be taken against organisations “deliberatley” delaying road projects in the strategic areas, Gadkari said that road construction in these areas can also be given to local contractors. “Road construction in strategic areas is not a difficult task and the contract, if the situation arises, can be given even to the locals who then can work with help of this ministry,” Gadkari said, adding that organisations not performing well will find the going difficult.
Gadkari, who on Friday inspected work on the 135-km-long Eastern Peripheral Expressway, said 12 more expressways will be developed to reduce travel time for goods and passenger vehicles. The Eastern Expressway passes through Sonipat, Bagpat, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Faridabad, and Palwal in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The proposed alignment crosses the Yamuna at Khurrampur/Khata in Uttar Pradesh and Faizpur Khadar in Haryana and also crosses the Hindon river. It will divert around 200,000 vehicles which pass through the national capital and would significantly reduce traffic congestion in Delhi, apart from reducing air pollution.
It will be equipped with the Highway Traffic Managament System, including variable message signs, CCTVs, videos incident detection system and warning devices. Gadkari said the new expressways include Amravati Ring road Expressway, Hyderabad-Vijaywada-Amravati Expressway, Hyderabad-Bengaluru Expressway, Delhi-Meerut Expressway, Mumbai-Baroda Expressway and Dwaraka Expressway in Delhi. He said a Mumbai-Baroda Expressway is being built at a cost of Rs 44,000 crore while the Amravati Ring Road is being constructed at a cost of Rs 4,000 crore.