Nitin Gadkari raises the bar with new road tender, construction targets

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New Delhi: Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday set road award and construction targets of 55km per day and 45km per day, respectively, a commitment the minister said he would try to meet before the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s term comes to an end next year.

The road minister fixed an award target of 20,000km of national highways for 2018-19, 25% above last fiscal’s 17,055km. Gadkari also raised the construction target for highways to 16,420km from 9,829km, eyeing completion of 45km per day as against the achieved target of 27km per day during 2017-18.

Addressing reporters, Gadkari said his ministry was making all out efforts to improve and strengthen the country’s highways network. This year the focus will be more on construction, but tenders will be more than last year. There will also be focus on completing detailed project reports of all the “in-principle” declared national highways.

He added that yearly targets will be divided into quarterly targets so that there is no pressure at the end of the year.

For the financial year 2018-19, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has been given a target to construct 6,000km, while the road transport and highways ministry and the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corp. (NHIDCL) will build 9,700km and 720km, respectively. The target for total highways to be constructed under the ministry has been set at 16,420km.

The high targets come as the road ministry has been witnessing good growth and road and national highway construction tenders have grown to more than double in the last four years.

A senior government official on condition of anonymity said, “Several other important decisions regarding the targets and construction were also taken. All the projects awarded before and up to 2014-15 would be completed this year on priority basis so that no prior legacy is pending. Similarly, projects beyond 2015-16 would also be given priority. Only projects from 2016-17 will be spilled over to next fiscal.” He added that according to estimates around Rs1 trillion will be required for road construction this year alone.

If there are no extraneous roadblocks such as public interest litigations, then the targets for road construction for this year can be met, said Jaijit Bhattacharya, a partner and head of economics, regulatory and policy advisory at KPMG in India.

Manish Agarwal, partner and leader of the infrastructure practice at consulting firm PwC, said that with the right project management practices along with the hybrid annuity model coming back, the targets are achievable. “There is some concern over capacity in the construction community and I think it’s where the market should respond to the demand in terms of manpower and pace,” Agarwal said.livemint