NITI Aayog CEO, Amitabh Kant to Hop on Board NHAI to Speed up Road Construction Plans

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The Logistics Headlines, New Delhi, 21st March : As the Government is moving closer towards constructing 41 Km of highways per day, it the Prime Minister’s Office, which has decided to supervise road construction projects minutely. Soon, Amitabh Kant (CEO, Niti Aayog) will be taken on the board team of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), for ensuring swift execution of the plans.

Both the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and the NITI Aayog have consented on the proposal, yet the Cabinet has to take the decision. Due to Modi’s government disbanding of Planning Commission, the arrangement as stated above, though existing in the past, has now ceased to exist in NHAI.

Hit and Miss in Road and Highways Construction Targets

As per the Rating agency ICRA, the NHAI can miss the target by a wide margin for awarding and executing the decided road projects. Even after 17 per cent increase in speed of project execution during the 8 months of FY 2017 (April-November) approximated at 5.82 km/day from the last noted 4.96 km/day, in 8 months of FY 2016; the progress accounts to only 27 per cent of stated target execution of making 21.92 km/day.

The 11-member NHAI board comprises of seven full-time members with chairman other than the four part-time members. Presence of Amitabh is going to steer ahead clearances to highway projects in a timely manner, which the Centre at the moment is struggling to keep up to, with current construction of highways estimating at just little over 40Km in a day.

Thus, any troubles for seeking clearance from finance ministry and MoRTH, before sending those for Cabinet approval, will be eliminated.

The Bottlenecks in Satisfactory Transportation Infrastructure

The road transport ministry until now has just been able to complete half of its annual highway construction target marked to February, 2017. Because of poor performance of contractors and land acquisition hurdles, the delay has disrupted intended programs. As per FY 2016-17 targets, the 15,000 kilometres planned, saw just 6,604 kilometres of highways completed by last month’s end.

Problems were noted in clearances at the end of forest, wildlife, environment obligations, unavailability of soil aggregates, and issues with the Indian Railways regards to under-bridges and over-bridges. These causes led to slowdown of road construction targets.

Now with 25,000 kilometres of highway construction at hand, with nearly an investment of Rs. 3.5 lakh crore, it has become mandatory to take firm steps in getting the projects wound up within the next two years.

NHAI Crusades to Functionally Utilize Asserted Funds

Earlier, Nitin Gadkari (the road transport and highways minister of India), had said that they intend to get at least 30 kilometres completed per day for this financial year, but the rate of construction stands to only 21 kilometres daily. The Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, has already earmarked Rs. 97,000 funding for highways and roads, while NHAI raised Rs. 15,000 crore through bond issuance.

In March 2017 itself, NHAI wishes to cope with 15,000 kilometres of new road. As the allocation of finances and infrastructure towards roads and highways are now boosted up to Rs. 64,000 crore, we need to see if the projected targets for construction will be met or not with NITI Aayog CEO stepping in the loop.

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