Have Indian highway targets made a U-turn?
Amritha Pillay 12 August 2010

If the recent data on road-construction targets shared during the Lok Sabha session are anything to go by, the ministry of road transport and highways will be building lesser roads this year compared to 2009-10

The road targets set for total highway construction in the country for the current financial year are surprisingly lower than what has already been achieved in 2009-2010.

In a Lok Sabha session held on 3 August 2010, RPN Singh, minister of state, ministry of road transport and highways informed the House, "The government/NHAI (National Highways Authority of India) has set up a target for constructing 4,770km of national highways during the current financial year. As on May 2010, the construction has been completed for 684 km."(See: http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=64007).

This information was shared on the targets for national highway construction in the country.

This 4,770-km target is obviously lower than the 5,038km completed road construction for the year 2009-10. This will bring the speed of construction to 13. 06km per day for the current financial year compared to 13.80km per day in 2009-10.

Both these figures have been shared with the House during different Lok Sabha sessions.

Earlier, on 27 July 2010, Kamal Nath, Union minister, ministry of road transport and highways informed the House, "The Government/NHAI has completed construction of national highways for a length of 5,038km, i.e., 13.80km per day during 2009-2010." (See: http://pib.nic.in/release/release.asp?relid=63523). This information was shared with reference to the pace of highway construction in the country.

Almost a year back, Mr Nath's leadership was expected to give a major thrust to highway development and road connectivity in India. However, if the figures presented to the House and shared on the PIB website are to be taken into account, the road ahead looks less impressive.

If 4,770 km is indeed the target for highway construction this year, the speed of road construction will stagnate at around 13km per day, which has already been achieved in 2009-10. Worse, the 4,770-km target would be short of around 268 km from what was achieved in 2009-10.

With such truncated targets, one can only wonder about how the country will be able to cope up with its increasing demand for road infrastructure, especially when automobile sales (across all categories) are touching new peaks.

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