• Only 40% of funds cleared for highway maintenance: Panel

    Governments have come and gone announcing projects worth lakhs of crores of rupees to build new highways and expressways, but none has allocated required budget for maintaining the expanding National Highway stretches. A parliamentary panel has cited how this allocation is barely 40% of the requirement.

    “Since, maintenance is a non-plan activity, governments have a tendency to apply ad hoc cuts due to resource constraints,” the committee has observed in its report submitted to Parliament last week.

    This comes as a wake up call for the present government, since highway minister Nitin Gadkari has announced plans to bring more state roads under NH network and increase its length from the present 1.3 lakh kilometres to two lakh kilometres. Once a state road is notified under NHs, state governments stop maintaining them.

    The committee has observed, “For 2016-17, only Rs 2,834 crore has been allocated for maintainance as against the estimated fund requirement of Rs 7,070 crore.” The non-plan allocation for maintenance of NHs in budget estimate of 2015-16 was Rs 2,701.40 crore. This was decreased to Rs 2,698.40 crore at revised estimate stage.

    The panel has recommended that maintenance work be given increased priority and to enhance fund flow. “This can be done by diverting funds from those heads where savings are expected,” the panel has suggested. Lavonte David Authentic Jersey

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