Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has ruled out any impact of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis on construction and development of roads, including several ongoing greenfield highways and expressways.
Speaking at the HT Leadership Summit 2020 on Friday, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister said his department is taking all the initiatives to fast-track some of the stalled projects as well.
The ministry is clocking around 11,000 kms of roads built every year, which has almost doubled in the last five years. Gadkari said, “Road construction industry has the highest potential and economic viability due to traffic density." He feels that it can help increase the liquidity in the market, especially in the current scenario. He said that these are the reasons why his ministry is accelerating highway projects across the country.
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He said spending more on infrastructure during current crisis will not only help boost the economy but also use Covid as an opportunity. Gadkari revealed the steps taken by his ministry to achieve this. He said, “Considering this important role of my ministry and taking advantage of the situation, we are fast-tracking the construction activities throughout India. Also major initiatives have been taken to ease the financial situation of the builders."
Gadkari said this initiative will help more than 400 stalled road and highway projects worth ₹3 lakh 85 thousand crore to kickstart. He said this initiative will help save NPAs worth ₹3 lakh crore for the banks.
The government earlier said it constructed 3,181 km of national highways in April-August, surpassing the construction target of 2,771 km. This includes 2,104 km constructed by State Public Works Department (PWDs), 879 km by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), and 198 km by the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL).
Further, 3,300 km length of NH works have been awarded in this year till August, which is more than double of the 1,367 km during the same period last year. This includes 2,167 km of NH awarded by PWDs, 793 km by NHAI, and 341 km by NHIDCL.
The government is planning to build highways worth ₹15 lakh crore in the next two years.
Execution of road projects this fiscal could be in the range of 9,000-9,200 km, almost 10 per cent lower than FY2020, due to Covid-19 related lockdowns and restrictions, according to rating firm Icra.
Last fiscal, nearly 10,237 km of road projects were completed, the rating agency said in a report.