Highway construction set to miss ’23 target

The Morning Mails

Highway construction set to miss ’23 target

The pace of highway construction this year is set to slip even as the government looks to build world class roads at a breakneck speed. As per the latest construction report from ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH), just about 8,064 km of highways have been built in the 11 months of the current fiscal year as against a target of 12,000 km. Though this is a tad higher than the 8045 km built in the last fiscal, more than 4,000 km would have to be completed in March at over 130 a day to reach the 12,000 km target. The most that the NHAI has achieved is 40 km per day. With the pace of construction so far this year, the National Highway Authority of India may not even reach the 10,000 km-mark, way below last year when prolonged rains and the third covid wave cut construction to 10,400 km, said an official privy to the development.

The government’s road construction data shows that till February-end, 8,064 km of highways have been commissioned in the country, including a 1,200 km in February and just over 1,000 km in January. The government is hoping that with the push on completing projects that were close to getting commissioned, the NHAI may still reach somewhere near the targeted highway construction as was the case last year. Questions sent to NHAI and ministry of road transport and highways remained unanswered till the time of going to press. But officials said the slow pace may be attributed to the NHAI using a portion of the government’s budgetary allocations to cut its debt that has shot up to over ₹ 3 trillion. The construction in FY23 is slower than even the first year of pandemic that resulted in wide scale disruptions in economic activities.

Though there is a slowdown in construction, a pick up is seen in road awards in FY23 indicating that construction will also pick up pace in coming months. NHAI has awarded a total of 7,497 km of highways upto February this year against award of just 7,618 km in the same period last year. The momentum in road awards is indicative of improving health of the sector with rising appetite for contractors to pick up projects. While the government has not provided any reason for the weak performance in highway construction this year, an official in the road transport ministry said disruptions from the Omicron wave and a prolonged monsoon prevented the NHAI from completing the targeted 12,000km last year, and the trend seems to be continuing this year. The official quoted above said that with the government flush with funds to get roads completed at accelerated pace, visible changes could be seen next year with record high constructions.

An official at MoRTH said that the current development is in line with a three-year trend where construction has remained slow in the first six months but picked up pace thereafter. “Even this year, we have surpassed the target upto February, meaning the shortfall may quickly get eliminated," said the official. MINT PREMIUM See All Premium Highway construction set to miss ’23 target Premium Kids channel Sony YAY! steps up licensing, merchandising Premium ‘Ciena to invest $100 million for manufacturing in India’ Premium Parliament deadlocked over Rahul Gandhi apology, Adani Catch all the Business News , Market News , Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates. More Less

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