Expansion of roads hit. No new projects in sight

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By Samiran Saha & Abhishek Anand

Photo: Shailendra Pandey

THE EXPANSION of highways, which was to drive the country’s growth, has taken a back seat once again. From the 62 projects that were awarded in January-November 2009, the tally has shrunk to five in the June-August period this year.

Developments at the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), the apex body for highways in the country, have pulled down the pace of development. According to those who track the sector, repeated modifications in the bid documents, charges of deep-rooted corruption within the NHAI and the lack of confidence among the road developers have dealt a blow to highways development.

Despite the grim picture, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways says, “The government will start inviting bids for new road projects soon, and the pace is expected to pick by October as the monsoon would also have receded by then.”

According to the ministry, the NHAI is likely to award 18 projects at an estimated cost of Rs. 13,886 crore, but a timeframe has not been given. However, it also has plans to award a total of 37,500 km by 2014.

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