As a result, the highway construction rate during the April-August period fell to 23.26 km/day from the 25.55 km/day logged during the April-July period of the current fiscal. On the positive side, the first five months of this fiscal have seen 3,490 km of highways being built, as against 3,067 km in the April-August period of FY17-18 – this implies a construction rate of 23.26 km/day in the first five months of FY18-19, compared with 20.44 km/day clocked last year.
Overall, the last fiscal had recorded a construction rate of 26.9 km/day. While this pace was almost maintained in the first three months of the current fiscal with a figure of 26 km/day, it has dipped since the onset of the monsoon – this is a yearly feature though, with the three-month period ending September considered a lean period for construction owing to rains.
The MoRTH data reveals that only 424 km of highways could be constructed in August, compared to 721 km in July, 826 km in June, 803 km in May and 716 km in April this year.
For the April-August period, all state agencies improved their performance compared to last year. As far as MoRTH is concerned, it built 2,312 km of roads during the period compared to 2,068 km in the year-ago period. MoRTH largely implements projects via the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) route wherein the government bears all project costs.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) too has done better this year, clocking 1,079 km, as against 972 km last year. Projects commissioned by the NHAI are increasingly being built through the hybrid annuity model (HAM), which is an improved version of the public-private partnership model in which the government bears 40% of project costs.
The National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL), the third ministry agency, has also bettered its showing, from 27 km last year to 99 km in the ongoing fiscal. While the construction rate of 23.26 km/day in the April-August period is an improvement over the 20.44 km/day clocked last year, it is a far cry from Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari’s target of building highways at a pace of 45 km/day in FY18-19. His ministry achieved rates of 27 km/day in 2017-18 and 22.7 km/day in 2016-17.
Overall, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has done considerably better than its predecessor United Progressive Alliance (UPA) on the highway development front. The Narendra Modi government has built around 73% more national highways in its first four years in power (FY15-18) compared to the last four years of the UPA dispensation beginning 2010-11. The present government has constructed a total of 28,531 km of national highways in four years, as against the 16,505 km built by the previous government in four years until FY13-14.