Unhappy over delayed highway projects which amount to Rs 3.15 lakh crore, a parliamentary panel has asked Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to prioritise their completion instead of announcing new projects. The delayed 888 projects pertain to construction of 27,665 km of national highways.
The Department-related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture, in its latest report tabled in Parliament also asked the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to prioritise its delayed road projects. "The committee is anguished to note that 888 road projects under the Ministry are delayed at present, which amount to Rs 3,15,373.3 crore involving a length of 27,665.3 km," the 31-member panel chaired by TG Venkatesh said.
Delays in completion of ongoing road projects cause a huge loss of time and greater consumption of fuel, to countless number of road users across the country, besides the increase in the project cost that has to be incurred by the Ministry, it said. "The committee desires the Ministry to focus and prioritise completion of ongoing delayed projects instead of announcing and awarding new road projects in the country," it said.
Noting delays in projects in various states, it asked the Ministry to evolve a delay-resolution mechanism. It said while Maharashtra has an abnormally high number of delayed road projects as compared to other states, it is "equally worried over long delays in completion of four-laning project in Gaya-Hisua-Rajgir-Nalanda-Bihar Sharif section and the Patna-Gaya-Dobhi road project connecting Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya.
It expressed concerns over other delayed projects including Goa to Karnataka and Goa border to Mumbai project besides construction of a bypass on NH 77 at Muzaffarpur, in Bihar and ongoing road projects at Kaudiyala in Uttarakhand. "The committee recommends that the Ministry may look into the reasons behind these delays and sort them out so as to complete these important road projects at the earliest.
It also expressed concern that against a target of 6,469 km during the current fiscal, the Ministry has been able to award only 2,517 km till January 2021. Similarly, the Ministry has been able to complete construction of only 2,273 km, as against the target of 4,571 km under the scheme, it said.
"The committee feels that if this trend continues, it would not be possible for the Ministry to meet the targeted timeline for completion of Bharatmala Pariyojna Phase -1 by 2025-26, which is already lagging four years behind the originally targeted completion of Phase -1 by FY 2021-22," it said.
Expressing its displeasure over a whopping Rs 97,115 crore debt servicing liability on NHAI, it also asked the authority to explore restructuring of existing debt and look for options to raise long-term funds.