Daily road construction during the three-month-long nationwide lockdown hovered around 18 km a day as the government and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) used labour optimally to complete work with minimal hindrance.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways constructed 1,640 kilometres in the first quarter (April-June) of the financial year 2020-21 (FY21). During this period, it awarded contracts for 1,658 km of highways.
The government says construction during the lockdown should be considered an achievement, as there was no activity in the first three weeks of the lockdown. Construction activity was allowed with 50 per cent of labourers in the second phase of the lockdown.
“We usually do more than 20 km per day in the first quarter each year as this is the time when maximum construction activity takes place, but this year was different. There will be an overall impact on road construction as it is now the monsoon season and construction will only pick up after the festive season. We have to see how we can meet the target we have set,” an official said, requesting anonymity.
Latest figures, available till July 15, show that construction stood at 2,050 km, which translates to 19.5 km per day. It is learnt that both the road ministry and the NHAI have factored in about 50 per cent availability of labour for the rest of the year. However, they are yet to revise the official target for FY21.
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had said in April that he plans to set an ambitious target of 60 km per day of highway construction to ensure speedy economic recovery from the shock of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Union government’s previous target was 30 km, but it could only manage 28 km.