Building 20 km of roads a day not sustainable: NHAI chief

Building 20 km of roads a day not sustainable: NHAI chief New Delhi: Building 20 km of highways a day -- UPA II government's ambitious target-- is not sustainable due to reasons like delays in environment clearance and issues of land acquisition, highways authority NHAI said Thursday.

"Building 20 km (of roads) a day target is not sustainable. There is no point in rushing up with projects where we do not have environment clearance, we do not have land acqusition... We must deal with these projects in a way the private equity gets interested," National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Chairman R P Singh told reporters.

He said raising equity was a major concern for awarding road projects of 10,000 kms a year, including 7,000 km of national highways. It requires Rs 90,000 crore investment, of which one-third (Rs 30,000 crore) should be private equity.

"Can we really raise Rs 30,000 crore equity," he wondered while stressing the need for making road projects lucrative.

Achieving up to 60 percent of the target would be meaningful if the government manages to maintain current rate, he said on the sidelines of a FICCI conference on highways.

His remark comes at a time when NHAI has barely managed to award about 1,000 km of contracts so far this fiscal as against a target of 9,500 km fixed by the Road Transport and Highways Ministry.

"We will certainly exceed (award of contracts for building) 2,500 km. We fixed our internal target at 3,000 km," Singh said.

The UPA government in 2009 has unveiled its ambitious target of building 35,000 km of highways in five years, which translates into constructing 20 km of roads in a day.

So far, the target was never achieved and even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had expressed concern over it.

Private developers have not shown any big interest of late in bidding for highways projects.

PTI