Many road projects remain stuck on the ground awaiting clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The delays pushed developers GMR group and GVK Power & Infrastructure into walking out of highway development projects earlier this month. C.P. Joshi, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, was measured in his responses when K.R. Balarubramanyam quizzed him about these issues. Edited excerpts from an email interview:
Q: What do you have to say about the GMR Group exiting a highway project?
A: NHAI is seized of the matter. I won't be able to comment on it.
Q: As much as Rs 11,000 crore is stuck in disputes between NHAI and developers. Are there any chances of an early resolution?
A: The contracts or concession agreements have a well-defined dispute resolution system and NHAI is taking timely steps to resolve disputes.
Q: What are your expectations from the environment ministry?
A: We want expeditious clearance of road projects, consistent with environmental safeguards prescribed in the guidelines.
Q: What kind of progress do you expect in road development this year?
A: We concentrated on awarding more projects in 2010/11 and 2011/12, creating a pipeline of more than 14,000 km of awarded projects. This will be helpful in achieving higher rates of construction. This year, we are focusing on completion of ongoing projects and removing difficulties by increasing inter-departmental coordination. This will help us achieve higher targets in the coming years.