In what could be seen as a subdued pace of highway construction in the current financial year, the Economic Survey 2021-22 today said that 3,824 km of roads have been built during April–September (first half) of this year. This translates into an average per day construction of 20.89 km, which is slightly more than half of 36.5 km per day in the lockdown hit 2020-21.

“There has been a consistent increase in the construction of National Highways/roads since 2013-14 with 13,327 kms of roads constructed in 2020-21 as compared to 10,237 kms in 2019-20, indicating an increase of 30.2 per cent over the previous year. In the 2021-22 (till September), 3,824 kms of road network were constructed,” economic survey says, bringing to the fore the diminishing pace of highway construction in the current financial year.

“In the 2021-22 (till September), 3,824 kms of road network were constructed. The extent of road construction per day increased substantially in 2020-21 to 36.5 kms per day from 28 kms per day in 2019-20, a rise by 30.4 percent as compared to the previous year,” the Economic Survey says.

It may be safely said that at the current pace, the highway construction in the current fiscal will be slightly more than half the record achievement of the previous financial year. The survey, however, does not list out the reasons behind the lacklustre show by the ministry which is one of top ministries along with the ministry of railways in terms of the capital allocation in the last few years.

It may be noted that the per day highway construction of 20.89 km is almost half of the annual target of 40 km a day set by transport minister Nitin Gadkari.

The slowing pace of highway construction despite large number active contracts is a cause of concern. According data from the ministry of transport, highway contracts worth ₹9,22,404 crore is under construction as on March 31, 2021. Not only highway construction, even the highway contract award by the ministry has slowed down in the current financial year. According to data from the ministry, highway contracts worth 5,835 km have been awarded between April-December, compared with 7,767 km during the same period in the previous financial year.

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