Published on 7/08/2018 11:33:04 AM | Source: Dion Global Solutions Ltd

Policy initiatives jack up highways award to 51,073 km, construction to 28,531 km : Nitin Gadkari

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Major policy initiatives coupled with expeditious land acquisition resulted in highest ever award of 51,073 km of highways and construction of 28,531 km over the last four years, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said according to the PTI report. Given the expeditious land acquisition for highway projects, the government is confident to take the road building pace to 40 km a day by the next year from 28 km a day, the road transport and highways minister said at the launch of a portal 'Bhoomi Rashi' for fast-tracking land acquisition. "We have achieved the highest ever award of 51,073 km of National Highway projects and highest ever construction of 28,531 km over a four-year period from 2014-15 to 2017-18. Construction of National Highways has more than doubled to 28 km a day and the total investment in the sector has increased by 2.5 times...Bhoomi Rashi portal will further boost it," Gadkari, who also holds shipping and water resources portfolio, said here.

Bhoomi Rashi, the portal developed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) and NIC, contains the entire revenue data of the country, right down to 6.4 lakh villages and makes the entire process flow, from submission of draft notification by the state government to its approval by Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways and publication in e-Gazette online, expediting the process of publication of notifications for land acquisition. The minister said more than 900 notifications have been issued using the portal so far and the notification process which used to take three months earlier is completed in a week now. To expedite highways construction, the government has made about 80 per cent land acquisition beforehand mandatory now but 6,000-7,000 km work is still pending due to delays in acquisition, he said. Gadkari added that earlier Rs 10,000 crore used to be with Competent Authority Land Acquisition (CALA) in states but now the amount lies with the Centre and can be transferred quickly.

Integration of Public Financial Management System (PFMS) with Bhoomi Rashi is one of the key functionalities to facilitate payment related to compensation for land acquisition to all the beneficiaries directly through the Bhoomi Rashi system, he said. He said the government was building new expressways on greenfield alignments resulting in not only lesser cost on land acquisition but development of backward areas. Citing the example of greenfield Rs 1 lakh crore Delhi-Mumbai expressway, he said the new alignment has saved Rs 16,500 crore on land acquisition and distance will be less by 120 km. Had it been the expansion of existing Delhi-Mumbai highway, the land acquisition could have cost Rs 7.5 crore per hectare, he said. He said work on Vadodara-Mumbai strech entailing Rs 44,000 crore investment has begun and land acquisition for the remaining parts was likely by the end of this year. He also added that rates of administrative charges for land acquisition by various states have come down to 2.5 per cent from 20 per cent earlier.

The minister said under the ambitious Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I, a total of 34,800 kms including the balance road works under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) are to be completed by 2021-22. To achieve this ambitious target, the ministry has been continuously working on further improving internal processes through various digital initiatives to reduce cost and time of construction, he said. He also launched a Bidder Information Management System (BIMS) portal to streamline the process of pre-qualification of bidders for EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) mode of contracts saying that functioning of his ministry was transparent and corruption-free. BIMS would be used by all the project implementation agencies of the Ministry, for maintenance of technical information of civil works of contractors/ concessionaires, and for online technical evaluation of civil works bids. Gadkari also said that recognising developers who are performing well, annual road awards will be presented to them beginning 2018.