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NEW DELHI : Transport minister Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday that project delays due reasons like unhelpful rules and court cases are costing the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) dear and a resolution was needed to lower project costs.

Speaking at a virtual launch of a new policy framework for planning and executing infrastructure projects prepared by policy think tank NITI Aayog and Quality Council of India, Gadkari said that NHAI was facing a hit of at least 1 trillion because of court decisions and delays.

The minister said it has been decided that without completing 80% of land acquisition, contracts will not be awarded. Gadkari said that the way environment and forest regulations are framed, projects were facing tremendous delays, which also results in loss of crores of rupees.

“I am very much pro-environment. We do not want to compromise on environment and ecology but at the same time, because of rules and regulations and the way in which they are framed, we are facing tremendous delay. Because of that delay, we are also facing crores of losses. Somewhere we need to find a way without compromising environment and ecology," the minister said.

Gadkari also said fixing these issues can save at least one trillion a year. The infrastructure framework makes recommendations to streamline planning and execution of large projects.

The blueprint which covers planning, procurement, construction and finance seeks to achieve top class delivery of projects within time, said NITI Aayog chief executive officer Amitabh Kant.

Railways and commerce minister Piyush Goyal, who was also present on the occasion, said that he had no doubt the proposals would transform the way projects are implemented.

“I am going to share my learnings from your proposal and the work your team has done to see how we can use and engage with that in the Railways…. I am sure the government can leverage this document to bridge the gap between demand and supply," the Goyal said.

The plan to revamp the way projects are executed comes at a time the government is pursuing a major infrastructure development programme of 100 trillion over the next few years. Economists have appealed to the government to focus on infrastructure projects in the next round of measures for supporting economic recovery, given the multiplier effect this industry offers.

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