Rs 8kcr highway projects on anvil

NEW DELHI: The ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) has asked the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to award 3,000 km of roads on a cash contract basis during the current fiscal year to step up road construction.
This would mean that projects worth Rs 7,500 crore-Rs 8,000 crore would be up for grabs for private road developers in the next few months. So far, NHAI has been awarding projects either through the BOT (toll) or BOT (annuity) mode, but this is the first time the authority has been asked to award large stretches under the cash contract scheme.
While toll road projects have been mostly bagged by big players in the sector, cash contract projects may help small and medium-level players. "The focus of cash contract works will be more in the hinterland areas, which have remained untouched. These stretches have less traffic, and hence are not viable to collect toll," said an NHAI official.
The cost of construction is estimated to be in the range of Rs 2.5 crore and Rs 3 crore per km. The ministry is also considering whether these projects can be rolled out without acquiring additional land by using space available along the existing roads. Under this scheme, only extended two-lane roads would be built.
Officials said this method would help expedite project execution. They said Uttar Pradesh, which is going for election early next year, is likely to get a bulk of such projects. Since the projects would be funded by the NHAI or the ministry, the Union government will have greater control over these projects that could help complete the work on time.
In the first phase of this scheme, the highways ministry has started floating tenders for 540 km of highways in UP. Some officials in the ministry say the timeframe of one year for the maintenance of these roads by private contractors may lead to poor quality, and they want this to be extended to three to five years.
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