NEW DELHI: Despite a number of delays and stalled projects, India has achieved significant improvement as far as laying new roads are concerned. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has said India’s highway building has achieved a new feat, constructing a record 37 kms every day.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has constructed 13,394 km of highways in fiscal year 2020-21. “Tremendous progress has been achieved in building national highways across the country…We have achieved a road building pace of 37 km of highways a day,” Gadkari said.
Gadkari said these “achievements are unprecedented and have no parallel in any other country in the world”. He said that over the past seven years, length of national highways has gone up by 50 per cent from 91,287 km (as of April 2014) to 1,37,625 km (as on March 20, 2021).
The speed at which India is adding highways can be highlighted by a recent feat achieved by the National Highways Authority of India. The NHAI created a world record by building a four-lane highway of 2,580 metres length within 24 hours. NHAI contractor Patel Infrastructure achieved the record by laying the highest quantity of concrete on a part of the greenfield Delhi-Vadodara-Mumbai 8-lane Expressway project. The feat was recognized by the India Book of Records and the Golden Book of World Records.
Under Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, India has added more than 50 per cent length of national highways in the past seven years. As on March 20, 2021, India has built 1,37,625 kms of highways compared to only 91,287 kms in April 2014. During this period, India has also spent five times more money to construct highways, up from a mere ₹33,414 crore in the financial year 2015.
Gadkari said that under his watch the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways has been able to unlock several stalled projects. According to the minister, the ministry has been able to take initiatives to resolve the deadlocks and accelerate the pace of highway building, including termination of projects worth ₹40,000 crore, resulted in fast-tracking of the road building. He said that there were 406 stalled projects involving investment of ₹3.85 lakh crore when he took charge in 2014.
The government plans to build around 34,800 km of highways at a cost of about ₹5.35 lakh crore under the ambitious Bharatmala Pariyojna. “In five years, I can give guarantee that India’s infrastructure will change… It will be no less than the US or European countries… A new India is emerging,” Gadkari was quoted as saying.
The ministry has taken several initiatives to increase the pace of construction. A new India is in the making with infrastructure which will be no less than that in the US and Europe in five years, Gadkari said.
He added that a solid foundation has already been laid with over Rs 17 lakh crore worth of projects in the last five-year period. “In five years, I can guarantee that India’s infrastructure will change…It will be no less than the US or European countries…A new India is emerging,” Gadkari said.
He said a network of green expressway corridors is being laid, including the Rs 1-lakh crore Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, and added that the 30-km Dwarka Expressway, being built at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore, is an engineering marvel and would result in a Singapore-like place on Delhi’s borders.
He also said border roads are being augmented and about 90 per cent work has been completed on the Kailash Mansarovar route project via Pithoragarh. Work is being done there on war-footing with Australian tunneling method in minus 8 degree temperatures, he said.
With the completion of this project, the arduous trek through treacherous high-altitude terrain can be avoided by the pilgrims of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and the period of journey will be reduced by many days.
Currently, travel to Kailash Mansarovar takes around two-three weeks through Sikkim or Nepal routes. In addition, work is in full swing on the Char Dham project to provide all-weather connectivity to Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath at a cost of about Rs 12,000 crore, the minister noted.
He said that besides, 17 such highways have been built in Rajasthan and other areas that can double up as airstrips. Work on the Zojila tunnel is underway to provide all-weather connectivity to people in Leh and Ladakh who remain cut off from the rest of the country for six months every year, he said.