New Delhi: Highway construction slowed down during the current fiscal year, and has met only 45% of its target of 13,800 km, as per a news report in LiveMint. This is despite the Union government earmarking a record Rs 2.16 trillion capex in the first nine months of the year.
The report quoted data from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), which said that India has added 6,216 km of national highways in April-December 2023. This is only 45% of the 13,800 km construction target for the current fiscal year.
But falling short is not new. Though it faced a target of 12,500 km, the government built only 10,457 km of roads in the fiscal year of 2022, and 10,331 km in 2023. This year – FY2024 – the target is 13,800 km. The news report quoted an anonymous source in the know who said that achieving this target is unlikely – despite the fact that India has added 6,216 km of national highways this year which is still higher than in 2023 (when only about 5,744 km of work was completed till the end of December). Sources also quoted the government’s delay in awarding road projects as one of the reasons why highway construction slowed.
This slowing down has come despite the government increasing its capital expenditure to Rs 2,15,910 crore, or 83.49% of the record high capex outlay of Rs 2,58,606 crore for FY2024, the news report noted.
A report by rating agency ICRA suggests that highway awards slow down in the last quarter of a financial year that comes just before elections. If this happens this year with the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, it would be difficult to construct over 80 km of highways every day in the last three months, the news report said.