Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday pulled up the NHAI officials here for not visiting project sites, which is responsible for the delay and poor quality of work.
The road transport and highways minister said that on Monday, he held a meeting with NHAI and National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) officials on issues related to road projects in Assam.
“Even Assam Chief Minister complained why NHAI officials did not contact him about problems being faced by them…(NHAI and NHIDCL) Officials sitting in Delhi, have not visited the project site in the last two years,” Gadkari, who is known for his frank views, said while addressing an event here.
The minister wondered how one can result without visiting project sites.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and NHIDCL are primarily responsible for the construction of national highways and expressways across the country.
Gadkari said: “We should plan for the next 25 years while building infrastructure projects”.
He also noted that the current approach to make the Detailed Project Report (DPR) is outdated.
The minister suggested that work should be decentralised and carried out in a time-bound manner by senior officials.
A total of 3,48,279 persons injured in 3,66,138 road accidents across the country during the calendar year 2020, causing 1,31,714 deaths, Parliament was informed on Wednesday.
In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said that as many as 4,51,361 people were injured in road accidents in India during 2019, while the total number of accidents stood at 4,49,002.
According to the minister, the road ministry has formulated a multi-pronged strategy to address the issue of road safety based on education, engineering (both of roads and vehicles), enforcement and emergency care.
Replying to a separate question, Gadkari said, construction works on National Highways were delayed to some extent due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the loss of time was estimated to be generally in the range of 3-9 months depending upon the project parameters.
The government has taken several steps under Atmanirbhar Bharat, like granting time extensions for 3 to 9 months, relaxation in contract provisions for ensuring cash flow, direct payment to sub-contractors and release of retention/security money to augment cash flow, waiver of penalty in case of delay in submission of performance security (for new contracts), to make up the loss and regain the lost speed in highways construction, he added.
Responding to another question, Gadkari said 61 State Transport Undertakings (STUs), which are members of Association of State Road Transport Undertakings (ASRTU), are operating 1,45,747 buses, out of which 51,043 buses have facility for boarding and deboarding for persons with disabilities.