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Pace of highway construction has improved, shows data.
Pace of highway construction has improved, shows data.

Highway contract awarding gathers pace in current fiscal

  • Contracts for 5,697km of roads were awarded during April-Oct, an increase of 1.9 times from a year ago

The rate at which contracts are being awarded for building national highways has gathered pace, overtaking pre-covid numbers as lockdown restrictions are eased and manpower returns.

The government awarded contracts for 5,697km of highways during April-October, an increase of 1.9 times over the same time a year ago.

Highway construction too is gradually gaining momentum and is close to last year’s gains, a senior government official said. As much as 4,628km of roads have been constructed in the seven months of the current financial year, compared with around 5,100km during the same period a year ago, according to the official. The target for the financial year 2020-21 is 11,000km.

“Highway construction was severely affected in the beginning of the year (because of the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus).Things are getting better despite the covid-19 pandemic. This is also because of the series of steps taken by the government after the imposition of the lockdown," the official said.

According to CARE Ratings, the pace of highway construction has increased notably from the lows of 7km per day in April 2020 to 26 km per day in September 2020. It touched a high of 33km per day in June 2020. “The pace of construction, however, has seen fluctuations on a monthly basis. This could in part be attributed to seasonal factors that come to impact road construction," it added.

“With the monsoon season in various parts of the country running from May to October, road construction during these months slows down and picks up pace thereafter. The labour shortages consequent to the pandemic and the lockdown, too, have affected road construction," the ratings agency said in a note in October.

The rate of road construction is expected to gain momentum after the rains, it said. The government has been taking steps to boost road construction as part of its focus on infrastructure creation. This is expected to have a multiplier effect on the Indian economy, which experienced a record contraction of 23.9% in the April-June quarter.

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