New Delhi: As part of a plan to speed up highway development and appoint senior staffers in state capitals as mandated by new highways minister Kamal Nath, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is considering doubling its senior staff.
The authority wants to hire at least 15 chief general managers and 30 general managers, said a senior Nhai official, who did not want to be named.
The authority, which is responsible for nearly 66,000km of highways, currently has 10 chief general managers in a total national staff of nearly 800.
The hiring comes at a time when NHAI is hard pressed to comply with Nath’s directive to depute officers to various states to liaize with state governments.
The minister had set the authority a target of completing some 20km of highways a day. “The minister’s target of 20km a day may be a bit difficult. Whatever is required to meet the work plan targets, that capacity needs to be created. It (the work plan target) is being worked on. The phase one target is 2,500km or so,” said the official.
NHAI officials say the authority also has trouble getting candidates with experience. “There is difficulty in getting people. Generally, people say that there are so many civil engineering graduates, but there is a shortage of people with experience,” said the official.
Since early this year, the authority’s board has been understaffed with only three full-time members against the required five. This week, a fourth member joined the authority.
“If you give geographical responsibility (to officers), that should help. After all, the impediments...are on the ground. and these have to be sorted out by people on the ground,” said Siddhartha Das, national public-private partnership practice leader, transaction advisory services, for consulting firm Ernst and Young.
Das said that short of having NHAI officials do the actual land acquisition, having officers to liaize with state officials was the best option. NHAI cannot by itself acquire the land but must work through state and district officials because land is a state subject.