Buoyed at construction of 18 km of national highways per day from 2km a year ago, Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said he wants a whopping 100 km to be built daily, as surface connectivity is the lifeline of the country’s economy.
“Though we are on target to build 30 km of highway per day by March, my unofficial target is to construct 100 km a day, as we need to expand the national highways coverage to 150,000 km from 90,000 km across the country,” Gadkari said on Wednesday at the five-day international construction equipment industry expo in Bengaluru.
Exhorting the construction industry to scale up and skill up to meet the government’s ambitious target of developing roads and highways for speedy transport, he told about 500 delegates that funds for building them were not a constraint.
“We have recently announced a number of policy and executive measures to speed up clearances, eliminate procedural delays and make the system efficient to kick-start the projects through public-private participation,” Gadkari said at the eighth edition of Excon 2015, the trade fair of the Indian construction equipment industry.
Asserting that even foreign banks were ready to finance highways projects in India, he said an overseas bank recently offered Rs.2 lakh crore long-term loan at 0.5 percent interest per annum to the government.
“My concern is not money but how to make the system faster for accelerating the pace of execution, as 380 projects were stuck till a year ago due to problems with land acquisition, forest clearances, shifting of utilities and litigation,” he said.
Of the 380 national highways projects across the country, 44 were terminated for failure to take-off and 95 percent of them were revived by solving problems faced by their contractors.
By building 30 km per day from March, the ministry wants to complete building four-lane national highways up to 115,000 km by December next and take up an additional 20,000 km through bidding process.
“In addition to expanding the national highways, we are building 10 expressways between cities across the country to reduce travel time by about 50 percent and encourage faster vehicular movement on their six lanes or eight lanes,” Gadkari said.
Among the expressways are from Delhi to Jammu and Kashmir’s Katra (600 km), to Meerut (150 km), Srinagar (870 km), and Jaipur (250 km), Mumbai to Nagpur (700 km) and Bengaluru to Chennai (240 km).
“By building world class expressways, we can reduce running time between major cities to six-eight hours from 18-22 hours presently, with passenger cars speeding at 150-200 km per hour,” Gadkari said.