In NEW DELHI: Given that highway development in India only met a fourth of the yearly objective in the first half of the current fiscal year, signs of a slowdown in the sector appear to be growing stronger.
According to the most recent data from the ministry of road transport and roads, construction up to September of this year has only covered 3,559 km as opposed to a target of 12,000 km in FY23. This is less even than the 3,824 km built over the same time in pandemic-stricken FY22.
Not only is there a slowdown in construction, but it is also evident in the selection of new projects. In comparison to the 4,609 km of highways given between April and September of FY22, only 4,092 km of projects have been awarded in the first six months of the current year.
“New highway construction was sluggish throughout the first six months. Over the last three years, the same pattern has been observed. In comparison to the same period last year, the current data show that we have virtually achieved 90% levels. According to Giridhar Aramane, secretary of the ministry of road transport and highways, “construction typically starts up in the second part of the year, and we are hopeful that we can build 12,000 km of roadways this year (MoRTH).
According to Aramane, 11,000 km of motorways will continue to be built this year with only a 1,000 km shortage. “It is not hard to catch up 1,000 km of construction in the previous six months, and provided there are no unseasonal rains this year or any other major disruptions, the aim of 12,000 km for FY23 would be reached,” he said.
In order to fill any gaps in construction this year, the government is relying on new road developments in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, which are already competitive in many locations. Additionally, it is planned to build about 500 km of highways in a matter of days.
However, due to the fact that government agencies have never built more than 50 km of road every day, which is required to meet the 12,000 km target in time, analysts are sceptical that the construction will be finished.
In the months prior to the epidemic in FY20, the government built 10,237 km of highways at a rate of 28.04 km per day. This significantly grew during the first year of the epidemic, when the nation saw lockdowns, which inadvertently accelerated building. A record 13,327 km of highway were constructed in that year (FY21), at a rate of 36.51 km per day. The pace again dropped down to 10,457 km at 28.64 km per day last year (FY22).
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