Highway construction falls to three-year low

By: |
October 19, 2021 8:36 AM

Construction fell to its lowest in three years to a little over 21 km per day during the April-September period of the current fiscal, compared with an average of 22 km/day in the same period last year and the peak of 25.67 km/day in the comparable pre-pandemic period of April-September 2019.

Awards of highway projects, though less than that of the last year, were more than double the 2019 level at 4,609 km during the April-September period of the current fiscal.Awards of highway projects, though less than that of the last year, were more than double the 2019 level at 4,609 km during the April-September period of the current fiscal.

Protracted rains have taken a toll on highway construction, one segment that has consistently been weathering the broader economy’s travails and even the pandemic shock. Construction fell to its lowest in three years to a little over 21 km per day during the April-September period of the current fiscal, compared with an average of 22 km/day in the same period last year and the peak of 25.67 km/day in the comparable pre-pandemic period of April-September 2019.

Of course, the savage second Covid wave had affected highway construction during the months of May, June, July this year, though the severity of its impact was much less than during the lockdown period in 2020 and the months that immediately followed. In August this year, however, monsoon rains hit the construction the hardest — just 428 km of highways (13.8 km/day) were built in the month against 665 km in the corresponding month in the previous year. The dismal situation persisted in September too with – 469 km (15.63 km/day).

The ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) has set an ambitious target of 40 km per day highway construction for the current fiscal compared with the daily average of 36.4 km achieved in 2020-21. On May 1, Union minister Nitin Gadkari had said the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) would be constructing highways worth `15 lakh crore in the next two years.

“Prolonged monsoons have affected the productive days for an extended period in current financial year when compared to last year which affected the pace of execution,” Icra’s Rajeshwar Burla said.

Awards of highway projects, though less than that of the last year, were more than double the 2019 level at 4,609 km during the April-September period of the current fiscal.

In 2020-21, the ministry of road transport and highways MoRTH awarded 10,467 km highway length compared with 8,948 km in 2019-20. “Awards could be fluctuating month on month. It is difficult to attribute any reason for this. However, overall awards for the full year it should surpass the last year’s level,” Burla said.

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