India’s road network, one of the largest in the world, has increased from about 3.37 million km in 2001 to over 5.6 million km in 2017. The government continues to focus on the major road development programmes launched earlier and the targets for road construction are being increased progressively. Improving connectivity, maintenance and safety are key priorities. In October 2017, the government launched the Bharatmala Pariyojana for highways that focuses on optimising the efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country.
“The roads subsector is the largest component in the Asian Development Bank (ADB) portfolio in India,” says Anil Motwani, Team Leader, Transport, ADB India Resident Mission, ADB. “Currently, this portfolio constitutes 21 projects totalling about $5 billion in an overall portfolio of $13.2 billion in India. The funding has been for national highways, state highways, district roads and rural roads.”
Motwani lists the challenges in funding road projects in India as follows:
- Considerable time taken for land acquisition, and environment and forest clearances.
- Capacity and performance of contractors.
- Contractual disputes between the employer and contractor.
- Capacity of some government road agencies to manage the projects.
These are being addressed through ensuring adequate progress on pre-construction activities before contract award; suitable contract packaging of works and qualification criteria for bidders; and capacity building of government road agencies. “With such measures, the implementation of projects is expected to improve in future,” he concludes.