New Delhi: National highway construction in the country hit an all-time high of 9,829km in 2017-18, indicating average road construction rose to 27km/day from 11km/day in the last five years.

Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said his ministry had reached its target of 27km/day and was hopeful of reaching a figure close to 40km/day during the current fiscal. Gadkari said the Prime Minister was very happy with the achievement.

Gadkari revealed that the ministry was working on several greenfield projects under Bharatmala with new alignments that would shorten distances and reduce travel time. The projects include the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and Bengaluru-Chennai expressway. He added that work on the Eastern Peripheral Express and 14-lane Delhi-Meerut Expressway phase I was almost complete and will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this month.

The roads ministry constructed 9,829km of national highways in the last fiscal, 1,598km more than in 2016-17 and awarded contracts for 17,055km, 1,107km more than in 2016-17. The ministry spent Rs1,16,324 crore to meet its targets.

As per the ministry’s statistics, 6,167km was constructed by the ministry directly or through state public works departments (PWDs), while 3,071km was constructed by NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) and 591km by NHIDCL (National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corp. Ltd).

Gadkari said the national highway construction success story should be attributed to land acquisition processes being undertaken by various departments of his ministry. “Land acquisition is very important for a project construction and I am happy to share that we have made the procedures which fuelled the growth in figures," he said, adding that targets for the next fiscal will be decided in the ministry meeting to be held later this month.