• Roads ministry lags in awards, construction of highways in ongoing fiscal

    The highways ministry is lagging behind its ambitious target of both award and construction of national highways. While the achievement in award of projects in this financial year is only 36% against the monthly target that the ministry had set for itself, the accomplishment in construction is only 60% against the monthly targets till August 26.

    TOI has learnt that 2,823 km of highway stretches were awarded for widening against the target of 7,875 km in this financial year.

    Similarly, construction on 2,625 km has been completed against the target of 4,400 km. In April, the highways ministry had set an ambitious target of constructing 15,000 km and awarding 25,000 km during this financial year. This seems to be tough to meet despite the ministry doing better than what previous governments were able to achieve.

    During the last financial year, a maximum of 6,000 km was constructed, the highest ever. Similarly, 10,000 km of highway stretches were awarded for expansion during 2015-16, which was the second highest since the government took up highway expansion in a big way. The record construction and widening of highways had marked a year-over-year increase of nearly 36%.

    Admitting that the target for this year is hard to achieve, ministry officials said they expect the pace of rolling out of projects to accelerate in the next few months. “Meeting are taking place regularly and monitoring is being done to push the award of works and also to expedite construction. Both have to go hand-in-hand. Systemic issues that often hold up projects have been addressed to a large extent,” a source said.

    Officials claimed that the pace of construction will also gain pace after monsoon.

    They said the speed of construction slows down during rainy season and picks up subsequently. Winter and summer are the most favourable periods of road construction and widening works.

    Realizing that the pace of construction needs to be pushed to maintain his record, highways minister Nitin Gadkari has asked NHAI and his ministry to adopt new technology, including the use of precast slabs. Earlier,he had told TOI that he had kept a higher target intentionally so that maximum work could be undertaken and completed. Danny Etling Jersey

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