The government has decided to award contracts for building 25,000 km of highways in the current fiscal and 30,000 km in the next to augment the road infrastructure, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said. The move will ensure building of at least 90,000 km of highways network under the current government, he said. "Our aim is to construct a record 90,000 km of highways during the five years of the Narendra Modi government.
We will be awarding 25,000 km this fiscal and another 30,000 km in the next one to achieve this," the road transport and highways minister told PTI in an interview. Work has started on over 33,000 km of highways awarded during the initial two years of the government, Gadkari said. Policy interventions and other initiatives had seen record awards for building 15,948 km highways in 2016-17. Gadkari said performance in "2016-17 has surpassed all previous figures" with "issue of award letters, after completion of all pre-project formalities for 15,948 km, an increase of nearly 60 per cent". The ministry was able to substantially enhance the pace of construction of National Highways during the last fiscal. Against a total of 6,029 kms constructed during 2015-16, last fiscal saw an increase of 33 per cent with construction of 8,241 kms of National Highways. The minister said the entire infrastructure sector had virtually come to a standstill when the present government had taken over in May 2014 and things were particularly bad for the highways sector with as many as 73 projects involving a length of nearly 8,200 stalled, locking up investments worth Rs 1 lakh crore. He said the shelf of projects ready for execution after appraisal and award had shrunk to unprecedented levels with works on only 3,169 km awarded during 2013-14. "We have managed to turn the sector around through a whole set of policy interventions, regular follow up with the banks and regular monitoring," he said. The Prime Minister last week chaired a meeting to review the infrastructure projects. In the highways sector, over 26,000 kms of four or six- lane National Highways have been built in FY17, and the pace is improving, the Prime Minister was told.