• Roads ministry targets laying over 40 km of roads every day in 2016-17

    The road transport and highways ministry has set an ambitious target of laying more than 40 km of roads every day in 2016-17, more than double the current pace. A senior official said the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will construct 8,000 km in the fiscal year while the Industrial Development Corporation (NHIDCL), which lays roads in hilly areas, will construct 7,000 km.

    The roads award target has been set at 25,000 km against the 10,000 km awarded last year, the official added. “The construction target has been set at 15,000 km against the 6,000 km constructed last year.

    However, the budget for the current year has set the construction target at 10,000 km,” the official said. “We are confident of doing much better than the budget target set by the finance minister.” Of the total length of national highways targeted for award, 15,000 km would be awarded by NHAI and 10,000 km by NHIDCL, the ministry said in a statement. In 2015-16, the ministry was able to award 10,000 km of highway contracts worth Rs 1lakh crore. In the current budget, the road ministry has got an allocation of Rs 57,000 crore and NHAI has been allowed to raise tax-free bonds of Rs 15,000 crore.

    The ministry is also looking at additional options to raise funds through EPFO and LIC and by leasing out existing projects on tolloperate-transfer (TOT) model. “We are looking at awarding contracts worth Rs 2.5 lakh crore. We are already in talks with LIC and EPFO to raise Rs 1 lakh crore. The remaining amount would be raised through leasing out our already constructed national highways to pension fund and PE players under the TOT model,” the official said.

    ELECTRONIC TOLL: NHAI is making cashless payment mechanism (FASTag) operational at 275 toll plazas from Monday. FASTag will offer near non-stop movement of vehicles through toll plazas and convenience of cashless payments of toll fee with nationwide inter operable electronic toll collection services.

    India has 350 toll plazas. FASTag will become operational at the remaining toll plazas within a year. NHAI will give 10% cash back incentive on toll payments for FASTag users. According to a study by Transport Corporation of India and IIM Kolkata, Rs 60,000 crore is lost on account of delays at various check posts. NHAI has tied up with ICICI Bank and Axis Bank for the service. FASTag has a one-time fee of Rs 200 and is affixed on the wind screen of the vehicle.It employs RFID technology for making toll payments directly from the prepaid account linked to it.

    FASTag will be available on sale from selected toll plazas on national highways and designated branches of participating banks. These can be recharged by making payments through cheque or online. The minimum recharge amount is Rs 100 and the maximum is Rs 1 lakh for commercial vehicles. 

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