The ministry of road transport and highways aims to award contracts for building 1,000 km of national highways in the first 100 days of the new government, according to officials aware of the development. The Prime Minister’s Office has asked for these plans to be drawn up, as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) prepares to unveil its cabinet line-up.
According to a presentation made at a high-level meeting chaired by the transport ministry’s secretary Sanjeev Ranjan on Monday, a copy of which has been reviewed by Hindustan Times, the ministry aims to award 6,020 km of roads, to be constructed at an estimated cost of ~86,660 crore, in the financial year 2019-20.
The transport ministry, led by Nitin Gadkari, awarded 5,489 km and constructed 10,855 KM as against its target of awarding 20,000 km and constructing 16,420km in the previous financial year. `
“We have been holding multiple consultation meetings for the 100-day agenda and will be holding more over the next few days; the final approval for the proposals will be given by the new minister only,” a senior ministry official said, requesting anonymity. So far, the ministry has managed to construct 39,386 km and awarded 56,566 km during the five years of the NDA government’s first term. The BJP, in its 2019 manifesto, promised to take national highway length to 200,000 km from 1,32,500 km.
The ministry has identified 442 delayed projects with a total length of 19,738.41 km worth ~1.66 lakh crore while 1,460 road projects with 52,331.58 km of length at a cost of Rs 5.83 lakh crore are currently underway.
In addition, the ministry also noted at least 13 major projects being implemented by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) with a total length of 2,087 km worth Rs 23,572 crore that have been delayed by more than two years from the scheduled completion date.
“Land acquisition, utility shifting, non-availability of soil/aggregate, poor performance of contractors, environment/forest/wildlife clearances, Road Over Bridge & Road Under Bridge issues with railways, public agitation for additional facilities, arbitration/contractual disputes with contractors etc” were the reasons cited by the ministry in the presentation.
The 100-day agenda will also focus on Centre’s ambitious vehicle scrapping policy that proposes to impose a cap of 20 years on the life of all commercial vehicles. A policy to expedite retrofitting of vehicle tracking devices is also being mulled by the ministry.