Ministry to overhaul road-building exercise

Ministry to overhaul road-building exercise

 After a dismal show in building highways for several years, the Ministry of Highways is looking at a new dispensation at the Centre to overhaul the road-building exercise, including awarding and getting clearances from various authorities.

Ministry officials, in the process of preparing a wish list for the new government, will seek streamlining the process of land acquisition and clearances from various authorities, including those of forest and environment.

The ministry is also keen to seek power to have more liberty on deciding whether to take up projects under PPP (public-private partnership) and EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) modes, instead of the current system of priority on PPP mode only, which was considered the main reason for the tardy progress of building of roads over the past decade.

The officials want to push more projects as public-funded, as it would help expedite work, instead of waiting for private firms to bid in the PPP model. With private developers not keen on participating in bids under the PPP model during the economic slowdown, public-funded projects would be more advantageous to push for early constructions till the economic situation improves, an official told Deccan Herald. 

The Highway Ministry has suffered huge setback in building highways, especially for the past two years: The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) was able to award only 1,116 km for construction as against the target of 9,500 km in the previous fiscal.
The ministry at present follows a model recommended by the B K Chaturvedi committee report on deciding execution of a road project. According to it, the NHAI first has to try the Build Operate Transfer (Toll) model for awarding any roads, and if it fails, it will try the Build Own Transfer (Annuity) model.

If the project does not get any response in either case, the EPC model is tried. “Instead of trying all three models one by one, more liberty should be given to the NHAI to decide which mode should be adopted for developing a project after studying traffic density,” said the official.

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