The Centre’s highway construction pace seems to be hurtling down at a fast rate, the data from the ministry of road transport and highways reveals. The average highway construction per day has dipped to 20.43 km per day in the four-month period between April–July FY23.

This is almost half of the best-ever performance displayed by the ministry in FY21 when the government constructed a record 13,327 km at a rate of 37 km per day. At this pace, the average construction target of 40 km a day, set by transport minister Nitin Gadkari, seems to have receded on the horizon.

According to data from the ministry of road transport and highways, the government constructed 2,493 km (20.43 km/day) of national highways till July in the current financial year, compared with 2,927 km constructed during the same period in the previous financial year.

Highway contract awards, too, have slowed down in the four months of the current financial year. According to the ministry of highways, contracts for the construction of 1,975 km have been awarded in the period compared, with 2,434 km in the April-July period of the previous fiscal.

Notably, the annual highway construction, too, has been on a decline. Against the record 13,327 km constructed in FY21, the total construction in FY22 stood at 10,460 km. However, with the record 5,113 km awarded for construction in March this year, the contract award for construction of 12,731 km in FY22 surpassed contract awards for 10,964 km in FY21.

The government has announced ambitious plans in the highways sector for the current financial year. The plans include the addition of 25,000 km to the national highway network, which currently stands at 1,41,000 km.

The government will also raise ₹20,000 crore over budgetary allocation for the highways sector. Out of the total allocation of ₹1,99,108 crore to the highways ministry, ₹1,87,744 crore is earmarked for capital expenditure.

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