NEW DELHI: The government has made a more than 4-fold increase in the fund allocation for the development of National Highways in the past eight years. While only Rs 24,700 crore was allocated for this in 2014-15, this has increased to Rs 1.17 lakh crore in 2021-22, an increase of 443%.
The road transport and highways ministry also told Lok Sabha that the annual average construction of NH in the past seven years was 9,000 km and on average works were awarded for widening and construction of 10,781 km of NHS. The ministry said 41 projects costing around Rs 26,500 crore have been delayed due to several reasons including non-availability of land and the financial inability of contractors. It has submitted the details of the new timelines for these projects.
The government data also show that the highways ministry resumed notifying NHS after putting a brief break in 2019-20. In fact, in the past 10 years, the declaration of NHS touched the bottom in 2019-20 when barely 495 km of State roads were converted to NHs. But in 2020-21, this was increased to 5,381 km.
Earlier this week the road transport highways ministry submitted details on the length of state roads which have been notified as NHs in the past three years to the Rajya Sabha. Sources said most of these NHs have been declared under the Bharatmala scheme. While a maximum of 846 km of state roads in Telangana have been declared as NHS in 2021-21, in Gujarat 844 km of state roads got the NH tag.
The conversion of state roads to NHs has always been a political achievement both by the Centre and the states. Once a state road is declared as NH, the Centre starts planning for its expansion to meet the growing traffic demand.
The data accessed since 2011-12 show that the maximum length of 13,085 km of state roads was notified as NHs in 2016-17 and another 12,503 km was added to the NH network in 2017-18. In the subsequent two years, this fell to 6,174 km and 495.
Between 2011-25 and 2020-21, the Centre added 61,360 km to the NH network, which is around 44% of the entire NH network in the country and most of it happened during the NDA-2 as it gave priority to highway development to push economic activities.