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Gadkari wants more powers to NHAI, unhappy with project progress

Press Trust of India New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2018

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday said the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) should have more powers to fast-track road projects while expressing unhappiness over its overall performance.

Gadkari said a proposal to enhance NHAI powers has already been sent to the Cabinet for approval.

“We need to move on fast in NHAI. I am not happy with their targets,” the Road Transport and Highways Minister said at an event here.

Fast-track projects

The decision in this regard has been taken to fast-track projects, he said, adding, “We have to strengthen the power of NHAI and the Board... Our proposal is pending and we are expecting that the Cabinet will enhance the power of the NHAI. That will be useful for road construction.”

Stating that even States PWDs were faring better than NHAI, Gadkari said, “This is not done. I am expecting at least ₹10,000-crore worth of road construction from the NHAI.

He further said that project delays were due to the “system” as there were so many committees to take decisions and eventually the projects suffer.

“It is because of the system. Everywhere there are committees. You have to go to a particular committee for BOT (build-operate-transfer), then if there is no response then you have to go to another committee for EPC (engineering, procurement and construction),” he said.

Enhancing the power of NHAI will help fast-track clearances to highway projects at a time when the government has fixed a target of building 40 km of roads a day.

The move is aimed at empowering the NHAI board to clear all highway projects on its own instead of seeking clearances at various levels.

The NHAI board at present proposes a highway project which is cleared by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) before Cabinet approval if the project amount is less than ₹1,000 crore.

For projects over ₹1,000 crore, MoRTH forwards it to the Finance Ministry before Cabinet nod.

The 11-member NHAI board consists of seven full-time members including the chairman besides four part-time members.

The country has an ambitious highways construction target of 40-km a day. The current rate of construction is about 22 km a day.

The government had awarded 9,655 km of highways construction until February out of a target of 25,000 km. It has also raised its construction target to 15,000 km as against 6,000 km constructed last year.

Out of this, 6,467-km highway projects constructed till February.

Rating agency ICRA has recently said that NHAI is likely to miss the target for awarding and execution of road projects by a “wide margin”.

“Although the pace of execution increased by 17 per cent during the 8 months of FY 2017 (April-November) to 5.82 km/day from 4.96 km/day, during 8 months of FY 2016; it is just 27 per cent of target execution of 21.92 km/day.

Published on March 20, 2017

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