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Earlier this year, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) had released data claiming that the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) built more roads than the UPA (United progressive Alliance) in four years. A recent report by Financial Express has now reiterated this.
According to the report, NDA has built 33,361 km of highways in four-and-half-years. On the other hand, UPA constructed 33,038km in seven years between FY08 and FY14.
While the NDA may be ahead of UPA in road-building, the party is not close to the target it had set for itself. According to the ministry website, the completion of construction target for 2018-2019 has been set by the NDA government as 16,418 km. Till now, 2,345 km has been built during the April-June period of 2018-19.
While the Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari had set a target of 40km/day for the last two years, roads have been constructed at a rate of 23 km per day. For this year, Gadkari has set an even higher target of 45 km per day.
Yet, the pace of building roads is faster than what it was in the UPA regime. The construction pace under Nitin Gadkari’s watch has picked up to 27km/day in FY18. In the last year of UPA-2 during FY14, it was 11.7km/day.
Progress can be seen in road construction despite many hurdles — one of them being private investors not showing interest in road building projects due to lower toll receipts which, in turn, led them to becoming defaulters.
In addition, the sector has been unable to get loans from banks for a long time during the current regime.
However, Gadkari is leaving no stone unturned to build more roads. In fact, it is expected that the ministry will construct 9,698 km while the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is aiming 6,000 km.
Apart from setting targets, Gadkari is also taking other measures to improve the pace of road construction. More NHAI projects are being built via Hybrid Annuity model (HAM). Through this model, the government funds 40 percent cost of a road project.
The ministry is also easing the exit policy for developers. It is also taking care of faster land acquisition, an issue that is one of the major causes behind slow construction. It has also launched one-time fund infusion scheme in weak projects.
The NDA government is also awarding more highway projects. In its first four years, the NDA awarded 51,073 km. This is double of what the UPA achieved in its last four years.
While 17,055 km highway projects were awarded during 2017-18, the NDA has set an even higher target of 20,000 km for 2018-19.