Government to meet 20 km a day highways target, says minister


New Delhi : Road Transport and Highways Minister Kamal Nath said Wednesday the government is geared up to meet the target of building 20 km of highways a day.

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“We are currently doing around 12 km a day. By next year, we will have work in progress on over 25,000 km of highways. I am hopeful that we will soon be able to achieve 20 km a day target,” Nath said at the annual Economic Editors’ Conference here.

The government announced in June 2009 that it would build 20 km of national highways a day. However, nearly one and half years down the line, it has not been even able to approach the target.

Nath said the government had failed to meet the target because building highways was a lengthy process and might take over four years.

Works on 4,646 km of national highways was completed between October 2009 and September 2010. It results in an average 12.72 km of highways construction per day against a target of 20 km a day.

Nath said the government plans to award contracts for the construction of 10,665 km highways in fiscal 2010-11. “Work is already in progress on 14,704 km. We target to award another 10,665 km contract this fiscal.”

Last year, the government awarded 201 projects having combined length of 9,923 km. Now work is in progress on 14,704 km highways.

Nath said nearly 90 percent of new contracts are awarded in the build, operate and transfer (BoT) category. “A lot of loopholes are reported in EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contracts. So we have decided to award majority of the contracts in BoT.”

Road Transport Secretary R.S. Gujral said nearly $5 billion foreign investment was expected in construction of road this year. “$2.9 billion is World Bank fund. We are also expecting $2 billion private foreign investment.”

Gujral said the transport ministry has requested Rs.2,650 crore fund from the finance ministry for maintenance and up-gradation of roads.