The ministry of road transport and highways, through its various implementing agencies, has constructed around 12,700 kilometre of highways this year, a senior government official told ET.
“This year, we will be a wee bit short of 13,000 kilometre in construction,” the official said. “By the next week, 100-150 kilometres more could be added,” the official added. With these figures, the pace of construction would touch 35 kilometre per day.
Till 22nd March this year, the ministry had constructed 12,205 kilometres of National Highways in the current financial year, taking the pace of construction to 34 kilometres per day.
Market watchers say that the highways ministry and particularly the National Highways Authority of India have been proactively engaging with contractors this year to ensure that the pace of construction is not hampered.
The ministry, as part of the Atma Nirbhar Bharat initiative, rolled out a number of relief measures for highway concessionaires, which included payments for the amount of work done, monthly payments to ensure availability of working capital, and payments to subcontractors, which ensured that smaller players were not impacted.
The ministry has exceeded its construction target for the current year. Highway construction till February this year stood at 11,138 km. Highway construction in FY 20 stood at 10,237 km, while that in FY 19 stood at 10,855 kilometres.
The increase in the pace of highway construction is significant given the slump in construction activity during Q1 FY 21, induced because of the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19.
For FY ‘22, the construction target has been set at 11,000 kilometres again, the official quoted above said.
Currently, highway projects worth Rs 7.89 lakh crore are under construction across the country, Union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari informed the Parliament this month.
“One of the differences which we see is the flexibility of the government to work with the contractors in easing contractual difficulties,” said Arindam Guha, Partner and Lead- Government and Public Sector, Deloitte India.
“Even without a formal renegotiation framework, NHAI has sought to address loopholes in contracts,” Guha added.