An organisation tasked with building highways takes nine years to complete its own headquarters. A scathing assessment of its workforce follows and officials warned that they could be facing the music soon.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari's remarks on the inauguration of the new building of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) may have stunned the employees and high-ranking officials would have immediately felt the impact of his comments.
Grappling with typical bureaucratic hurdles and numerous changes in working ethos, the NHAI is expected to provide fillip to the infrastructure sector’s growth prospects.
So, despite its proactive approach, how has the NHAI's working culture been allowed to reach abominable levels?
SP Singh, Senior Fellow, Indian Foundation of Transport Research and Training, told Moneycontrol that Gadkari's comments won’t ensure an overnight transformation of the organisation.
"The minister's comments are just political gimmickry. The monitoring mechanism at the NHAI is very poor. Suddenly if the minister criticises the organisation one day, we should not expect the personnel to suddenly change their ways of working. I don’t see any serious introspection coming out of this episode,” he said.
Singh added that when the NHAI was conceived as an entity, it made a very promising start, but lost its way too soon.
"The NHAI’s work culture is bureaucratic instead of being technocratic," he rued.
Moneycontrol reached out to the NHAI on how it plans to carry out its overhaul, but there was no response till the time of filing this story.
Gadkari on October 27 said 'non-performing assets' should be shown the door.
"I feel ashamed at the attitude of such officials who are carrying such legacies. They are delaying decisions and creating complications and at the helm, these are CGMs (Chief General Managers) and GMs (General Managers) sitting for years," Gadkari said.
Gadkari's remarks were not the first time he had expressed his dissatisfaction on the functioning of the organisation.
In June at a webinar organised by industry body Assocham, Gadkari stressed on revamping the NHAI’s operations.
"We are taking steps for revamp of the NHAI....major reforms are needed," he had said.