Miles to Go

New road projects dipped to a five-year low last fis­cal, but ex­e­cu­tion speed stayed on course

India Today - - ROADS - By Anilesh S. Ma­ha­jan

The Jour­ney So Far

More state high­ways will be de­vel­oped by the NHAI un­der the Na­tional High­way Devel­op­ment Pro­gramme. With its AAA rat­ing, it has ac­cess to cap­i­tal at much cheaper cost.

Road pro­ject al­lo­ca­tions dipped in FY19 to 5,493 km—a five-year low— largely be­cause of land ac­qui­si­tion is­sues and the gen­eral elec­tion (a 68 per cent drop from the 17,055 km awarded in FY18). The ex­e­cu­tion speed, though, re­mained con­stant. In the previous fis­cal, the ex­e­cu­tion speed was 10,855 km; in the cur­rent fis­cal, con­struc­tion of more than 11,000 km is ex­pected.

In the first 100 days of Modi 2.0, a blue­print to ac­cel­er­ate the sec­ond phase of the Bharat Mala pro­ject has been worked out. The big idea right now is to com­plete the con­struc­tion of 48,000 km of high­ways be­fore the next gen­eral elec­tion in 2024.

Is It Enough?

A big worry pol­i­cy­mak­ers have is the un­pre­dictabil­ity of lo­gis­tics move­ment pat­terns be­yond the 5-10 year curve (in­vest­ments have to be done much in ad­vance).

A Rs 1 lakh crore in­fra­struc­ture fund has been an­nounced in the Budget but fi­nanc­ing op­tions and get­ting for­eign in­vestors to com­mit will re­main a chal­lenge

The Un­fin­ished Agenda

Two big chal­lenges—funds crunch and in­creas­ing land ac­qui­si­tion costs

NHAI has a plan to raise debt of Rs 75,000 crore from SBI and LIC

More un­der-con­struc­tion and com­pleted projects are ex­pected to go for mon­eti­sa­tion via In­vIT (in­fra­struc­ture in­vest­ment trusts) and ToT (trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy)

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