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80% highway work resumes after lockdown, target is to complete 12,000 km of roads in 2020-21

Officials in the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways say about 50-80% of labourers have returned to work in different projects after the lockdown was eased.

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New Delhi: With lockdown restrictions being eased, the highways sector is steadily coming back to life. Work has started on nearly 80 per cent of ongoing projects, senior officials of the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways have told ThePrint.

The ministry is hopeful of constructing 12,000 km of roads in the 2020-21 financial year, which works out to about 32 km per day.

“Currently, construction work has resumed in 80 per cent of our ongoing projects. Labourers are coming back, with their numbers varying from 50 per cent to 80 per cent in different project sites,” a senior highways ministry official said.

The official, who did not want to be named, said the ministry expects more labourers to return in a month.

A second ministry official said that 65 per cent of commercial vehicles are back on the highways and the toll revenue, which had taken a hit during the lockdown, is picking up.

Also read: Only way to give back is to tell a powerful story: Inside Barkha Dutt’s 84-day Covid journey

Priority projects

The second ministry official said work on expressway projects such as Delhi-Mumbai, Bengaluru-Chennai and Visakhapatnam-Raipur will be prioritised.

The ministry is also planning to complete the tendering process for the Vadodara-Mumbai stretch of the proposed Delhi-Mumbai expressway. It has set a 2023 completion target for the expressway project.

“Land acquisition process is on in the Bengaluru-Chennai and Vizag-Raipur greenfield expressway projects,” the first official quoted above said.

Union Road Transport & Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari had said in ThePrint’s ‘Off The Cuff’ conversation last month that his ministry was planning to start highways work worth Rs 15 lakh crore in the next two years.

Gadkari had also said there is no dearth of funds in the sector, with budgetary allocation to the tune of Rs 1 lakh crore. The highways ministry has been allocated Rs 91,823 crore in the 2020-21 Union budget.

Also read: Highway projects worth Rs 15 lakh crore to start in next 2 yrs, MSME package soon: Gadkari


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