High­ways Tar­get up 50% to 15,000 km

The Economic Times - - Economy: Macro, Micro & More - Ra­jat.Arora@ times­group.com

New Delhi: The gov­ern­ment has set a tar­get of con­struct­ing 15,000 km of high­ways in the next fi­nan­cial year, 50% more than that in the cur­rent fis­cal. The road trans­port and high­ways min­istry ex­pects to con­struct a record 8,000 km of high­ways this fis­cal, even as that will be 2,000 km short of the tar­get.

Of­fi­cials said 5,000 km of high­ways were con­structed be­tween April and De­cem­ber 2016, at 18.5 km a day on av­er­age.

How­ever, they said, the pace al­ways re­mains sub­dued dur­ing the mon­soon months and picks up dur­ing the last quar­ter. In the last fis­cal, the min­istry built nearly 6,100 km of high­ways, higher than 4,410 km in the pre­vi­ous year.

The bud­get for 2017-18 has ear­marked nearly ₹ 12,000 crore more for the min­istry for the next fis­cal, com­pared to the re­vised al­lo­ca­tion of ₹ 52,446 crore for the cur­rent year.

Be­sides, the min­istry has been al­lowed to raise an­other ₹ 59,000 crore through Na­tional High­ways Author­ity of In­dia (NHAI) bonds dur­ing the next fis­cal. For the cur­rent year, NHAI was al­lowed to raise ₹ 50,000 crore, of which it has al­ready raised ₹ 25,000 crore. Two more tranches of ₹ 5,000 crore will be raised in the com­ing days.

“The tar­get for the next year is am­bi­tious. But given the avail­abil­ity of funds through bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion and ex­tra bud­getary sources such as bonds, we could still meet it. Our ca­pac­ity to un­der­take projects has also been en­hanced in last two years,” said a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial, who did not wish to be iden­ti­fied.

The of­fi­cial fur­ther said, “If you put to­gether our bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion and the amount per­mit­ted to be raised through bonds, it comes out to be around ₹ 1.24 lakh crore. Given that the av­er­age cost of con­struc­tion per km ranges be­tween ₹ 8 crore and ₹ 10 crore, we’ll com­fort­ably be around the tar­get.”

From the bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion of ₹ 64,900 crore for the next year, the min­istry plans to con­struct projects worth ₹ 24,000 crore un­der the Na­tional High­ways De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme while other na­tional high­way projects have got al­lo­ca­tion of ₹ 21,543 crore. High­ways in the North East have got an al­lo­ca­tion of ₹ 5,765 crore, whereas ₹ 7,300 crore has been kept aside for de­vel­op­ment of roads owned by states and ₹ 3,000 crore will be spent on main­te­nance of high­ways.

Through the funds to be raised by NHAI, the gov­ern­ment has planned to un­der­take con­struc­tion of 2,000 km of coastal ex­press­ways. These high­ways will come up in Maharashtra, Gu­jarat, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Odisha.

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