Ahead of the Union Budget 2012-13,minister for road transport and highways CP Joshi speaks to Surabhi on the targets set for highway construction in the new fiscal. Excerpts:
What are the targets for highways construction in FY13?
We should be able to award most of the 7,300 km of projects we targeted for the current fiscal. The exact numbers will be available by March 31. In 2012-13,we plan to award roughly 9,000 km of highway projects.
When will the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill be tabled?
Once the Cabinet has approved a Bill,it has to be sent to Parliament administration,which forwards it to the Speaker who then decides the date for tabling it. Since the Cabinet has approved it,we intend to introduce it in the current session in the Upper House.
Will there be a rethink on the provisions of penalties proposed in the Bill?
These provisions have been brought in to give a clear signal that safety is the most important aspect of driving. We have made the changes based on the recommendations of the Standing Committee. Since all political parties are a part of the committee,there is no case for states being unhappy.
Several states want a de-notification of national highways as they feel maintenance is poor on such roads.
We have about 71,000 km of national highways and a provision of Rs 10,000 crore for their maintenance in which we have to accommodate all repair and maintenance works. As and when the ministry of finance gives us extra funds,we try to cater to all pending demands of states. State governments often dont understand this problem. In Madhya Pradesh we have sanctioned works amounting to Rs 21,000 crore in various NHDP stretches and have also asked state agencies to start construction.
What is the status on the appointment of NHAI chairman?
We have moved for enlarging the eligibility criteria and the selection is now in process. The exact date for appointment will be decided by a committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary.