Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday announced that he had expedited 280 national highway projects which would now be completed before the Lok Sabha elections next year.These include 127 National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) projects and 153 ministry projects, which were scheduled for completion by June 2019."All these projects are now targeted for expedited completion by March 2019 before the Model Code of Conduct is imposed in the country for the (Lok Sabha) elections," Gadkari told reporters here.In addition, there are about 100 projects that are going to be completed by December 2018, he added.The Minister said the construction target of NHAI for 2018-19 has also been revised upwards from 5,058 km to 6,000 km. He expressed confidence that the organisation would surpass this target.However, he added, the projects of Maharashtra and the Northeastern states remain to be reviewed, and the meeting for this will be held soon.Gadkari's remarks came after an extensive, state-wise review of over 700 ongoing national highway projects in the country across 20 states.
"During the marathon two-day review held in Goa earlier this week, it was realised that delay in land acquisition, utility shifting, environment clearance and permission for cutting of trees are some of the main reasons for delay of highways projects," he said.The Minister lauded the performance of Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh in sorting out these issues and helping expedite the highways projects. States like Bihar and Odisha on the other hand, need to greatly improve their performance in this regard, he said.Following the Goa review meeting, Chief Secretaries of all states have been asked to hold monthly review meetings to sort out problems at their ends.Gadkari added that faulty Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) have been found to be another reason for delay."Very often DPRs are made without taking actual ground realities into consideration. It has been decided to compile a list of projects that have been delayed for this reason. The consultants making faulty DPRs will be penalized and black listed," he said.