Highway construction experiences minor reduction due to Covid-19, NHAI creates record

NEW DELHI: National Road construction during 2019-20 it stood at 28 km per day, marginally less than the record set the previous year at 29.5 km per day. Sources said highway-building agencies would have easily broken the previous record if speed had not slowed building due to COVID-19 during the second half of March.

However, an encouraging indication is NHAI registering the record of highest ever NH building at 3,979 km during 2019-20 since its inception in 1995. Earlier the maximum building in a year was recorded in 2018-19 at 3,380 km.

According to highway ministry officials, the total building during last fiscal was 10,226 km as compared to 10,800 km during 2018-19.

“Usually, the pace of building is that maximum during the last three months. Work has almost stopped since March 15 and that has impacted our achievement,” said an official.

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On its part, NHAI said several steps are being taken to push highway building including the execution of Bharatmala Pariyojana which includes development of about 65,000 km national highways. Under phase-I, the government has approved implementation of 34,800 km in five years with an outlay of Rs 5.35 lakh crore. NHAI has been mandated to develop about 27,500 km of NHs under this program.

He said a lot of initiatives have been taken to revive stalled projects and speed up the completion of new ones. These include streamlining the acquisition of land and the acquisition of a significant portion of the land before they are tendered. Projects are awarded only after adequate preparation and Change of Scope of Cases (CoS) and Extension of Time (EoT) are temporarily removed.

“Our main focus has been to ensure that people face no hassle on road. We cannot keep citing official reasons to people who have the right to get good quality road, ”NHAI chairman S S Sandhu he said to TOI.