The second phase consists of four laning of national highways pertaining to the north-south east-west (NSEW) corridor.
Going by the official data of the ministry of roads, highways and shipping, out of the total 197 projects under NSEW, 54 are yet to be awarded and 101 projects are still at various stages of completion. Sources attribute this delay to a long lull in awarding contracts during the second half of last year.
After the UPA government took charge in May 2004, very few contracts were awarded under NHDP, and even till early this year, the pace was quite sluggish.
Only after March this year, National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) started awarding bids for the projects pertaining to NSEW as well as phase III of NHDP, which involves four laning of national highways, linking state capitals and important tourist destinations.
Ministry officials have said all along that keeping in mind all the practicalities, NSEW would finish by mid-2008, as the project is of a large magnitude.
However, quite a few of the 101 ongoing projects are supposed to finish only by December 2008, as per the individual deadlines of many of the projects, set for their completion by the NHAI.
Also, with 54 projects yet to be even awarded, it seems unlikely that NSEW would be able to end by December 2007. As it is, the entire exercise of inviting letters of intent (LOIs) from interested parties, technical evaluation of their claims and final awarding of bids, takes around six months.
Sources say by the time all the 54 stretches are awarded, the December 2007 deadline would have long expired. Industry sources say the government has come a long way when NHDP had just begun and it had to mostly complete the first phase (GQ) through annuity bids.
The government gained from the experience of foreign players and this is reflected in the enthusiasm amongst infrastructure companies for phase II and III stretches.