• Highway construction highest ever, but 45% short of target

    Highway construction in 2016-17 touched all time high at 8,144 km, which is 33% more than last year. Similarly award of works also increased to the maximum at 16,031 km, which is 60% more than last year.

    However, this is much less than what highway minister Nitin Gadkari had set as target for National Highways Authority of India and his ministry. Gadkari had set 15,000 km as target of construction and 25,000 km for award. Data accessed by TOI show that the maximum share of the achievements have come from the ministry, which executes projects through the state Public Works Departments.

    For example, while NHAI completed construction and expansion of 2,628 km of national highways (NH) till March 31, the ministry achieved widening of the over 5,500 km. While works undertaken by NHAI involves four-laning and six-laning, which requires more fund, land and resources; most of the projects executed by the ministry are confined to widen highway stretches to only two and half lanes.

    “It’s an accepted fact that the quantity of construction will come from ministry and the quality will come from NHAI,” said an official.
    In the case of award of projects, NHAI has tendered works for 4,335 kms while works for the rest 11,696 km were awarded by state PWDs. “The high rate of award for works will result in pushing construction in the next two years to a new height. All works awarded till March end will either get completed or near completion by 2019,” the official said.

    Recently, the ministry had told Parliament that “The slow speed of construction of NHs are mainly due to land acquisition, utility shifting, non-availability of soil/ aggregates, poor performance of contractors, environment/ forest/ wildlife clearance, rail over bridge and rail under bridge issue with railways, public agitation for additional facilities, arbitration/ contractual disputes with contractors etc.”  Nick Shore Jersey

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