Home / News / India /  Highway building awards up 17.5%

NEW DELHI : The government has stepped on road building by awarding more highway projects across the country. According to the latest data from the ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH), till December-end in FY23, a total of 7,263 km of highways had been awarded by NHAI, a jump of 17.5% over the 6,185 km awarded over the same period in the previous year.

This is the first time this year that month-on-month award of highways has surpassed the previous year’s numbers, indicating growing interest from contractors to pick up road projects. A record 1,881 km of highways was awarded in December alone. The government has set a target of constructing around 12,000 km of highways in FY23 but the progress has been slow so far with only 5,774 km of road construction completed upto December, lower than even last year’s 5,835 km.

In the last three months of the fiscal (January-March 2023), the government will have to more than double construction to reach close to the yearly target. This would entail over 65 km of highway construction per day, a feat that looks more aspirational as it has never been achieved so far consistently for three months. The construction this year is slower than the first year of the pandemic that resulted in massive disruptions in economic activity.

While the government has not provided any reason for the weak performance in highway construction this year, an official in the road transport ministry said disruptions from the Omicron wave and a prolonged monsoon prevented the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) from completing the targeted 12,000km last year, and that the trend seems to be continuing this year.

But, the ministry of road transport and highway (MoRTH) still hopes to reach closer to 12,000 km-target given that agencies have been asked to push up constructions and the government is flush with funds to get roads completed quickly.

“First half of the year, road constructions are generally slow but we hope that this activity will pick up pace now, as has been the case earlier as well, and goalposts would be reached," said an official asking not to be named. The government is banking on new roads in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, nearing competition at many places, to plug any gaps in construction this year.

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