May 9, 2011 1:18:46 am
Despite claiming that 20 km of national highways will be bid out and eventually constructed every day during 2010-11,the ministry of road transport and highways has been woefully short of target. The ministry awarded 5,083 km of national highways last year,but managed to construct only 1,780.34 km. In other words,a target of 14 km a day was awarded but only 4.9 km was built in a day. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had set a construction target of 2,500 km for the whole year which translates into 6.8 km a day.
The ministry had constructed 2,693 km in 2009-2010,2,205 km in 2008-09 and 1,682 km in 2007-08. This translates into 7.3 km per day,6.04 km per day and 4.6 km per day,respectively in the last three years.
It will take about three years to reach 20 km-a-day of construction as we need to build a bankable pipeline of projects, a government official told The Indian Express.
The major reason for slow construction is that only 643 km,or so,was awarded during former minister TR Baalus tenure in 2008-2009. The lag is showing up in construction now. It takes about three years for awarded projects to fructify and show up in construction, the official said.
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In 2010-11,the major shortfall has been in NHDP phases II and III. Against a target of 1,142.74 km construction in NHDP II,the achievement on ground was only 56 per cent at 645.59 km. On NHDP III,the actual construction was 661.98 km showing 67 per cent completion against a target of 984.68 km.
Given that there is a three year lag,even in 2013-14 the government will not be able to construct more than 15 km a day of national highways under the NHDP since the NHAI awarded projects totaling 5,083 km only in 2010-2011. In fact,the construction target of 20 km a day may only be met in 2014-2015,if the NHAI awards its targeted 7,300 km of projects this year.
However,experts feel that the ministry should make greater efforts to push construction on ground and move away from its obsession of just awarding projects.
There should be greater focus on shifting of utilities,pushing the bank of actual land under possession and better monitoring of performance of contractors, an expert,on condition of anonymity,said.
Ever since the 20 km-a-day target has been announced in 2009,there has not been much time to measure whether the policy itself is correct. We need to award 20 km-a-day of projects for at least three years before we can start achieving a similar target on ground, said Rajesh Samson,partner (infrastructure practice) Ernst & Young,a consulting firm.
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