COVID-19 lockdown impact: Highway construction halves to just 847 kms in April-May!

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Published: June 30, 2020 10:58 AM

For the current fiscal, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has set a construction target of 10,250 km.

The year 2018-19 was the best so far, with total construction touching a record high of 10,885 km or 29.82 km a day.The year 2018-19 was the best so far, with total construction touching a record high of 10,885 km or 29.82 km a day. (Representative image)

An acute labour shortage has hit highway construction in April-May. Just 847 km of highways were constructed in the country during the first two months of this fiscal, compared with 1,692 km in the year-ago period.

A total of 10,237 km highways were constructed in the whole of 2019-20. The year 2018-19 was the best so far, with total construction touching a record high of 10,885 km or 29.82 km a day.

Given the productivity loss during Covid-19 lockdown, followed by limited labour availability, the overall construction activity has been muted in the first quarter of FY21. Even assuming a pick-up in the coming quarters, execution of projects in FY21 is estimated to be lower by around 22% against the target, said ICRA vice-president Rajeshwar Burla.

For the current fiscal, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has set a construction target of 10,250 km.

Even before the onset of Covid, construction slowed downed in 2019-20, largely due to the general elections in May and a liquidity crunch. The outbreak of the pandemic only made matters worse.

In fact, highway concessionaires had started facing the labour issue before the Centre announced the first phase of lockdown on March 25. The imposition of a lockdown across 75 districts prior to the national lockdown resulted in concessionaires having to stop work on many stretches.

Of the total highway constructed in April–May FY21, the MoRTH has done 572 km; while its two implementing agencies — National Highways Authority of India and National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) — have constructed 199 km and 76.22 km, respectively. In the first two months of the last fiscal, the MoRTH constructed 1,167 km, while the NHAI did 518 km and NHIDCL 24.3 km.

In April 2020, total construction was 210 km, compared with 792 km in April, 2019.

Cumulative awards, however, rose to 747 km in the first two months of the current fiscal from 241 km in the year-ago period. Of 747 km, the MoRTH awarded 736 km and the NHAI awarded 11 km.

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