Industry lobby also for discouraging states from building toll-free roads
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) should reduce project sizes to between Rs 500 crore and Rs 1,500 crore in order to attract more bidders, a key industry lobby has said.
“There is a scope to attract small and medium-sized companies, something that NHAI was doing earlier,” said Hemant Kanoria, Chairman, FICCI National Infrastructure Committee, an event hosted by the industry body here on Friday.
Kanoria also raised the issue of the highways body compensating developers on stretches where competing toll-free roads were being built by State Governments.
Roads that do not charge tolls drive away users from national highways, which impact revenues of highway developers, he said.
“There are cases of the local administration stopping toll collection or even building bypasses where toll booths exist,” he added.
Meanwhile, an Ernst and Young-FICCI report has stated financial and manpower constraints as the key reasons why infrastructure projects were getting delayed. Since the total number of such players was less and they had already secured several projects, it had limited their capacity to take up new projects, it added.
It said lack of skilled manpower and shortage of construction equipment was compounding the problem. It suggested that foreign players could make investments and bring in technical expertise to undertake large and complex projects.
The Road Transport and Highways Minister, C.P Joshi, said, “I am concerned when I hear bids are not being received or only single bids are being received in well-structured projects. We have made earnest efforts to understand the reasons thereof and wish to resolve the issues.”
Joshi said his Ministry was developing a system to track the progress of construction and maintenance of national highways. The system will allow all stakeholders to capture information, photos and videos directly from the site using tablets, notepads or mobile phones and its retrieval on desktops and laptops on a real-time basis. This will make monitoring of projects more prompt and responsive , he added.