Home/ Industry / Infrastructure/  Q1 road work slower than in pandemic

The momentum gained in highway development over in the past few years has hit a speed bump with the pace of construction falling by over 14% in the April-June quarter of FY23.

Construction in Q1 sputtered to 1,966 km, slower than even the 2,284 km built during the peak of the second wave of the covid pandemic that resulted in large scale disruption in economic activity, the latest ministry of road transport and highways data on road construction showed.

The sharp fall will make it hard for the government to ramp up construction to 50 km day this year, a target set by road transport and highway minister Nitin Gadkari. Even achieving the 12,000 km of highway construction in FY23 now would mean taking up construction to over 40 km a day, which has never been achieved so far.

While the government has not given a reason for the slowdown, officials in the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) said disruptions from the pandemic and an unusually long rainy season prevented the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) from completing the targeted 12,000 km last year and that the trend then continued restrict work in April as well.

“While the construction work has been slow in the first three months of FY23, still around 2,000 km of roads has been built and progress should pick up pace from July onwards," said an official asking not to be named.

Queries sent to the ministry remained unanswered till the time of going to press.

As per government statistics, only about 659 km of highways were built in June this year, as against 814 km in the same month last year.

In fact, the June construction numbers are even lower than May, when NHAI built 729 km of highways. The lowest construction this year was in April when 578 km of highways were built.

Along with sluggish construction, only 969 km of roads were awarded in June as compared to 1,681 kms a year ago.

Last year was one of the worst in terms of road construction as numbers fell over 20% with pace suffering due to the twin blow of the pandemic and a long rainy season.

This prevented NHAI from completing the targeted 12,000 km of highways, instead ending the year with just 10,457 km.

The hope was that the pace would pick up this year.

Gadkari has set an even stiffer target for road construction. In a tweet, he said the government is committed to expanding the National Highways (NHs) network with the aim of constructing 18,000 km of NHs in 2022-23 at a record speed of 50 km per day.

In an interview to Mint earlier, MoRTH secretary Giridhar Aramane had said that 50 km a day was an aspirational target and that they were looking to complete about 12,000 of highways this year.

“The number may seem less compared to aspirational targets but the difference is that the 12,000 km we are going to build will be dominated by complex projects involving building six lane, eight lane and access control highways," he said.

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Updated: 27 Jul 2022, 12:53 AM IST
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