Highway construction pace slowest in 4 years

The original target was to build 14,600 km highways in 2021-22, up from 13,327 km constructed in 2020-21.

This would mean that much less roads will be built in 2021-22, compared with 2020-21, the original pandemic year.
This would mean that much less roads will be built in 2021-22, compared with 2020-21, the original pandemic year.

Given a slowing of highway construction pace in recent months, the government has lowered the target for the year to 33 km/day from 40 km/day set earlier. This would mean that much less roads will be built in 2021-22, compared with 2020-21, the original pandemic year.

“Targets for the construction of national highways are finalised on a year-on-year basis. The government has set a target of 12,000 km (for) the current financial year against which 5,118 km which has been constructed as on November 30, 2021,” road transport and highways minister Gadkari said in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.

The original target was to build 14,600 km highways in 2021-22, up from 13,327 km constructed in 2020-21.

Construction fell to its lowest in four years to 21.3 km per day during the April-November period of the current fiscal, compared with an average of 25.8 km/day in the same period last fiscal. It was 24 km/day in the comparable period of FY19 and 24.8 in the same period in FY20, both pre-pandemic periods.

The latest statement by the minister also marks a change from an official statement issued on May 1 this year following Gadkari’s address to the Indo-US Partnership Vision summit, where he said, “Shri Gadkari was confident that the ministry for road transport & highways will achieve target of 40 kilo metres (per day of highways construction in current fiscal.”

Highways have been the one segment that has consistently been weathering the broader economy’s travails and even the pandemic shock. However, protracted rains have taken a toll on highway construction in the current year. Icra’s Rajeshwar Burla said, “The execution (of projects) remained lower than last year due to multiple cyclones and heavy rains affecting the construction work in several southern states.”

Award of national highways has also been lower at 5,578 km during the April-November period of the current fiscal compared with 6,764 km during the corresponding period last fiscal. In the April-November period of 2019-20, a total of 3,211 km highway length was awarded for construction.

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