The feat could be achieved despite the COVID-19 pandemic with the construction of over 13,000 km of highways.
“Tremendous progress has been achieved in building of national highways across the country… We have achieved a road building pace of 37 km of highways a day,” Gadkari said.
He said the achievement was remarkable as it could be achieved despite constraints posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gadkari said these “achievements are unprecedented and have no parallel in any other country in the world”.
“Cumulative cost of ongoing project works has increased by 54 per cent at the end of the financial year 21, compared to the financial year 2020 (as on March 31),” the minister said.
Gadkari said that over the past 7 years, length of national highways has gone up by 50 per cent from 91,287 km (as of April 2014) to 1,37,625 km (as on March 20, 2021).
Total budgetary outlay increased by 5.5 times, from Rs 33,414 crore in the financial year 2015 to Rs 1,83,101 crore for the financial year 2022.
Sanctioned amount has increased by 126 per cent in financial year 2021 over the financial year 2020 despite COVID-19-related impact, the minister said.
Sanctioned length in kilometres has also increased 9 per cent in the financial year 2021 over FY20, he added.
Average annual project award (annual average award length) during the financial year 2015 to the financial year 2021 increased 85 per cent, compared to FY10 to FY14, as per the Ministry.
Average annual construction (average annual construction length) during FY2015 to FY2021 has increased by 83 per cent compared to FY2010 to FY2014, the Ministry added.
The minister said that when he took over the charge of the ministry of highways, there were 406 stalled projects entailing an investment of Rs 3.85 lakh crore.
It was a slew of steps that saved Indian banks from Rs 3 lakh crore of non-performing assets (NPAs), he said.
Gadkari said massive initatives to resolve the deadlocks and accelerate the pace of highway building, including termination of projects worth Rs 40,000 crore, resulted in fast-tracking of the road building.
The government envisages building 34,800 km of highways at a cost of about Rs 5.35 lakh crore under the ambitious Bharatmala Pariyojna.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), he said, has also made a world record by laying down 12,500 cubic metres of concrete on a stretch of 2.54 km.
NHAI contractor Patel Infrastructure had created a world record by laying the highest quantity of concrete on a four-lane highway in 24 hours recently.
It had laid a four-lane highway of 2,580 metres length within 24 hours totalling about 10.32 lane km.
The highway is part of the greenfield Delhi-Vadodara-Mumbai 8-lane Expressway project and was carried out by the world’s largest fully automatic ultra-modern concrete paver machine.
The ministry has taken several initiatives to increase the pace of construction.
A new India is in the making with infrastructure which will be no less than that in the US and Europe in five years, Gadkari said. A solid foundation has already been laid with over Rs 17 lakh crore worth of projects in the last five-year period, he added.
“In five years, I can give guarantee that India’s infrastructure will change… It will be no less than the US or European countries… A new India is emerging,” Gadkari said.
He said a network of green expressway corridors is being laid, including the Rs 1-lakh crore Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, and added that the 30-km Dwarka Expressway, being built at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore, is an engineering marvel and would result in a Singapore-like place on Delhi’s borders.
He also said border roads are being augmented and about 90 per cent work has been completed on the Kailash Mansarovar route project via Pithoragarh.
Work is being done there on war-footing with Australian tunnelling method in minus 8 degree temperatures, he said.
With the completion of this project, the arduous trek through treacherous high-altitude terrain can be avoided by the pilgrims of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and the period of journey will be reduced by many days.
Currently, travel to Kailash Mansarovar takes around two-three weeks through Sikkim or Nepal routes.
In addition, work is on in full swing on the Char Dham project to provide all-weather connectivity to Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath at a cost of about Rs 12,000 crore, the minister noted.
Besides, 17 such highways have been built in Rajasthan and other areas that can double up as airstrips, he said.
Work on the Zojilla tunnel is underway to provide all-weather connectivity to people in Leh and Ladakh who remain cut off from the rest of the country for six months every year, he said.