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Construction : Web Exclusive | January 2013 | Source : Construction Update

Set realistic road building targets: NHAI chief tells govt

National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Chairman RP Singh said in Delhi on January 17 that there is not enough capacity in the system to construct 7,000-8,000 km of highways every year, that too on public-private partnership (PPP) basis. He said that the government should set a more realistic target on road construction of about 3,000-4,000 km a year.

In 2009, the UPA Government had set a target to build 20 km every day or award about 8,000 km a year. The NHAI Chairman said implementing such a programme entirely on PPP basis would require about Rs 55,000-60,000 crore of debt from banks and Rs 30,000 crore as equity from the private sector a year.

He pointed out that lending to the sector was considered unsecured and banks had limits on such lending. Calling for a review of the toll policy, the NHAI Chairman questioned the Government’s current principle of collecting tolls – which go up in sync with the wholesale price index every year – on existing highways, instead of creating new route alignments and charging tolls on them.

The Government has a responsibility to provide connectivity. How long can one collect ever increasing tolls on existing roads, with high rates of inflation? he asked. He pointed to the resistance building up on high toll charges, and there was even political support to such resistance in certain instances. As the elections approach, such opposition is likely to rise, Singh added.

 
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