• Government chalks out Rs 25,000-crore road map for construction of highways in 12 hill states

    The government is preparing a Rs 25,000-crore plan for construction of about 2,000 kilometres of highways in 12 hill states in the country. Officials said the highest number of highway kilometres will be awarded in Arunachal Pradesh, followed by Jammu and Kashmir, Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh and Manipur.

    Majority of these projects will be awarded as per the government funded model of engineering, procurement and construction or EPC while a few high traction projects that connect religious places in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir will be taken up in accordance with the newly conceived hybrid annuity model, they said.

    The target for the current fiscal for these states is more than double of that in 2015-16, when the government managed to award projects adding to a little less than 1,000 km. “Projects worth Rs 10,000 crore were awarded in hill states last year, only 10% of the total projects awarded in the country. This year, we’re focusing more on hill states as they border with China, Nepal and Pakistan, and are of high strategic importance to India,” a senior transport ministry official said, requesting not to be named.

    The Prime Minister’s Office has also asked the road transport and highways ministry to increase the pace of road development in these states.

    The ministry plans to award projects of about 300 km in Arunachal Pradesh, 256 in Mizoram, close to 250 km each in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, 100 km in Manipur and the remaining in Uttarakhand, Assam, Sikkim, Nagaland and West Bengal.

    Most of these projects will be undertaken by the newly constituted National Highways and Industrial Development Corporation. “In all these states, we will be dividing our road contracts into small packages so that they can be awarded to local contractors to generate road building capacity at local level and increase local employment,” the official said. In 2015-16, the ministry awarded about 10,000 km of highway contracts worth Rs 1 lakh crore. The construction pace picked up, with the government constructing nearly 6,300 km at the rate of almost 18 km a day on average.

    For the current year, the target is to construct nearly 10,000 km that will accelerate the pace of road construction to 28 km per day. In the budget for the current fiscal, the road transport and highways ministry got an allocation of Rs 57,000 crore and the National Highways Development Authority has been allowed to raise tax-free bonds worth Rs 15,000 crore. 

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