Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has sought more funds from the Finance Minister to achieve the target of 30 kilometres of new roads per day.
Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari’s recent public interactions have been hinting at government’s intention to speed-up road and highway projects to generate more rural employment.
The Minister recently told Rajya sabha TV that his ministry has put in a request with the finance ministry to increase the ministry’s financial allocation in the upcoming Budget. Roads and highways received an allocation of Rs 42,913 crore in the last Budget.
“I am expecting RS 15,000–20,000 crore more in the union budget for 2016-17, over the current year’s outlay of Rs 45,000 cr. I want to build infrastructure. It will generate rural jobs” said Gadkari.
Gadkari said his ministry was working on a target of 30 km of new roads per day but also added that he dreams of achieving an ambitious target of 100 km a day some day.
Independent observer KK Kapila who interacted with the minister on behalf of Engineers Association wants the minister to focus on project clearance.
“Lot of Public-Private Partnership Projects are struck. It is good if road sectors get additional allocation but the work has to be done in coordination with contractors. Banks are not ready to give money these days” said Kapila.
Meanwhile government builder NHAI poses an additional challenge to government’s road construction target. The National Highway Authority of India which has to help the government achieve the target of 30 kms of road per day is struggling with 112 legal disputes valued at Rs 25,000 crore with infrastructure companies.
“The 30 kilometre target is achievable, we are doing 18 now. Legal disputes run for longer time. We will overcome it”, said an official to RSTV.
India has one of the world’s largest road network stretching over 50 lakh kilometers, but most of it is in poor condition due to lack of maintenance. National Highways that constitute just 2% of this network carry 40% of the country’s road traffic.
Apart from ministerial allocations for road construction, the ministry has also requested for Rs 250 crore for cashless insurance for road accident victims.