Source: The Economic Times, Feb 08, 2017
NEW DELHI: The government has set a target of constructing 15,000 km of highways in the next financial year, 50 per cent more than that in the current fiscal.
The road transport and highways ministry expects to construct a record 8,000 km of highways this fiscal, even as that will be 2,000 km short of the target.Officials said 5,000 km of highways were constructed between April and December 2016, at 18.5 km a day on average.
However, they said, the pace always remains subdued during the monsoon months and picks up during the last quarter. In the last fiscal, the ministry built nearly 6,100 km of highways, higher than 4,410 km in the previous year.
The budget for 2017-18 has earmarked nearly Rs 12,000 crore more for the ministry for the next fiscal, compared to the revised allocation of Rs 52,446 crore for the current year.
Besides, the ministry has been allowed to raise another Rs 59,000 crore through National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) bonds during the next fiscal.For the current year, NHAI was allowed to raise Rs 50,000 crore, of which it has already raised Rs 25,000 crore. Two more tranches of Rs 5,000 crore will be raised in the coming days.
“The target for the next year is ambitious. But given the availability of funds through budgetary allocation and extra budgetary sources such as bonds, we could still meet it. Our capacity to undertake projects has also been enhanced in last two years,” said a senior government official, who did not wish to be identified.
The official further said, “If you put together our budgetary allocation and the amount permitted to be raised through bonds, it comes out to be around Rs 1.24 lakh crore. Given that the average cost of construction per km ranges between Rs 8 crore and Rs 10 crore, we’ll comfortably be around the target.”
From the budgetary allocation of Rs 64,900 crore for the next year, the ministry plans to construct projects worth Rs 24,000 crore under the National Highways Development Programme while other national highway projects have got allocation of Rs 21,543 crore.
Highways in the North East have got an allocation of Rs 5,765 crore, whereas Rs 7,300 crore has been kept aside for development of roads owned by states and Rs 3,000 crore will be spent on maintenance of highways.
Through the funds to be raised by NHAI, the government has planned to undertake construction of 2,000 km of coastal expressways. These highways will come up inMaharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Odisha.