Construction of highways inched up to touch 26 km per day during the April-June period of the current year from 25 km in the year-ago period. The improved rate, however, is a far cry from road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari’s target of building these roads at a scorching pace of 45 km per day for the current fiscal. Among them, all agencies responsible for highway construction built 2,345 km of roads in the first three months of the current financial year, compared with 2,260 km in the corresponding period last year, sources in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said. While the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has achieved the pace of 8.3 km a day from just 1.8 km a day in the corresponding period last year, the ministry’s performance has fallen marginally to 17.1 km a day, against the last year’s achievement of 17.3 km a day.
While the ministry is largely implementing projects via the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) route where the government bears all project costs, NHAI projects are increasingly being built through the hybrid annuity model (HAM), an improved public-private-partnership model in which the government bears 40% of project costs. On the award front, however, things are yet to pick up. During the first three months of the current financial year, a total of 892 km of projects were awarded, compared with 1,054 km in the corresponding period last year.
Though things have improved a lot in recent years, problems of land acquisition and utility shifting, non-availability of aggregates, poor performance of contractors and delay in clearances continue to adversely affect awards. However, overall, the current government has done considerably better than the previous one on the highways development front. The Narendra Modi government has built around 73% more national highways in its first four years till 2017-18, compared with the last four years of the Manmohan Singh government. The present government has constructed a total of 28,531 km of national highways in its four years since 2014-15, against 16,505 km by the previous government in four years till 2013-14.