The Highway sector in India has seen a lot of progress in the past few years setting tough benchmarks for other sectors. In the concluded financial year 2017-2018, India witnessed a development of 10,000 Km of highways creating a record in the Highways sector. The NHAI, which is one of the guiding forces behind this feat, deserves praise for this achievement.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which was established by the government of India in 1988, is a statutory body assigned with the development, management, and maintenance of the assigned part of the national highway network. The NHAI, which is an autonomous body, works under the aegis of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), Government of India. In the running decade, the NHAI has set unbelievable targets and is trying to reach them through innovative models and processes.
Due to the push by the government, the NHAI has started increasing the pace of developmental works pertaining to the national highway network. An average of 27.5 Km of national highways was constructed in the last financial year against the awarded target of 46 Km. Even though the target fell by a huge margin, yet the NHAI managed to score high when compared to its previous years’ targets. In the fiscal year 2016-17, the NHAI was able to develop 8,231 Km of national highways.
A few years back, that is in the year; 2013-14, the highways construction with an average of 11 Km/day and a total of 4,260 Km was recorded. If we compare this to the last year’s feat, the quantum of progress achieved has been incredible. In the year 2017-2018, around Rs 1.5 Lakh Crores was invested by both public and private players. Of this, Rs one Lakh Crores was sourced by budgetary allocation, NHAI borrowings, and Toll collections.
According to sources, in the current year 2018-2019, the government is planning to spend around Rs 2 Lakh Crore, which is double the amount spent by the NHAI in the last financial year. If it is believed to be true, the Highways sector would leapfrog in India.
The government of India has been embarked on a mission to develop the national highways on par with the global standards. So, it started the National Highways Development Program (NHDP) in 1998 and the Bharatmala Pariyojana in 2015. The NHAI has been one of the agencies that have been accomplishing the targets set under the aforementioned programs.
With different technologies like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), the NHAI has been able to monitor the developmental works under its ambit. Now using drones, the NHAI is tracking the status and able to meet the daily targets. The Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) portal, which is in its nascent stages now, could help the NHAI in untangling the legal disputes and speeding up the construction of the halted projects. If all the wings and agencies of MoRTH can maintain the same momentum, the government of India would realise the ambitious targets of ‘Bharatmala Pariyojana’.