• Niti Aayog wants its chief in NHAI Board

    Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have emphasised on the mantra for breaking “silos” of individual departments for team work, but bureaucrats and departments are trying hard to protect their turfs.
    In a recent example, government’s Niti Aayog has said that the chief executive officer of this think tank body should be included in the NHAI Board besides two other independent members.
    The road transport ministry has proposed to delegate the power of appraisal and approval of highway projects to NHAI Board under the next generation avatar of Vajpayee’s Golden Quadrilateral programme, Bharat Mala. This massive highway development programme will cover nearly 25,000 kilometres with an investment of at least Rs 3.5 lakh crore.
    During Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime NHAI Board was delegated the authority to appraise and approve individual highway projects after the Cabinet gave one time go ahead for the entire highway development programme.
    NHAI board had secretaries of finance, economic affairs, highway ministry and the erstwhile Planning Commission. But this model of faster clearance was changed during UPA and almost all individual projects went through layers of appraisal and finally were to be put before Cabinet for approval.
    TOI has learnt that finance ministry has said that since the highways ministry has already been delegated more financial power to appraise and approve bigger highway projects, where is the need to delegate more power.
    This paper has also learnt that to address these observations, Transport Bhawan is reworking the composition of NHAI board by incorporating Niti Aayog CEO and two independent directors in the board.
    Quick appraisal and approval of highway projects are required to push award and ultimately the construction of highways to increase the pace of road construction. The government has been struggling to cross the mark of 20 km per day, against the target of building 40 km daily. Eric Rowe Womens Jersey

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