New Delhi: Judicial activism in India is making it difficult for the government to implement policy changes, transport minister Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday.

“Now the courts have taken decision they want to run the government, they want to give directions," Gadkari told delegates at a panel discussion at the India Economic Summit organized by the World Economic Forum. “I am sorry to say that in many cases the way decisions have been taken, it is difficult to execute."

Separately, Gadkari spoke of some of the measures that the government was taking to revive activity in the roads sector. It is working on a draft for a new contract agreement for road projects to address some of the issues being faced by the sector, he said. Gadkari added that his ministry is consulting stakeholders on a new model concession agreement (MCA) to replace the current one.

“The present MCA is very much against the contractors and bankers. The changed agreement will be a fair agreement, acceptable to contactors and bankers though it will not be favourable to anybody," Gadkari said.

MCA is a contract signed between the government and a developer, after completing a bidding process, which lays down the terms for the construction of a road project.

The move follows clamour by the industry to revisit the current MCA to address the issues that surfaced during the economic slowdown to revive activity in the sector. Key among these are the issues of cost escalation due to delay in clearances and ineffectiveness of the dispute resolution mechanism.

“The current dispute resolution mechanism has failed," said Ajit Gulabchand, chairman and managing director, Hindustan Construction Co. Ltd, who was also speaking at the same event. He added that the role of the dispute resolution mechanism had come to be limited to that of fixing remuneration for delay in clearances.

Gadkari said he has set a target of constructing 30km of roads a day within the next two years and was confident of achieving this target. He added that his ministry had awarded 3,419km of road projects within the first four months of the National Democratic Alliance government coming to power, out of a target of 8,500km for the year to next March.

The ministry awarded just 3,169km of projects against a target of 9,500km last year.

Sharing other developments, the minister said that 4,085km of disputed road projects worth 50,000 crore had been terminated through settlements with developers and disputes related to 2,384km of road projects had been resolved. Another 1,800km of road projects are still facing problems, he said.

Speaking on the outlook of foreign investors for investing in the infrastructure sector in India, Yorihiko Kojima, chairman of the board, Mitsubishi Corp., said that while the Japanese business community was encouraged to see Indian and Japanese governments working closely, issues of lack of uniform policies across states continued to be a cause of worry.

Gadkari conceded that there was a need for an integrated approach for a multi-modal transport policy in the country.

Mark Spelman, global managing director, Accenture, said that people see good prospects in India but are looking forward to a predictable policy and process that would enable them to achieve outputs.

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