The Union government has stated that it won't be able to award 4,000 km of highways on 100 per cent government funding mode known as engineering-procurement-construction (EPC) during this fiscal. The Union Road Transport and Highways Ministry was pinning its hope in these contracts to push its performance this year, at a time when private investors are showing no interest.
So far, only one such project has been cleared by the Finance Ministry for awarding. The approximately 140 km stretch falls in Rajasthan. Sources said that a couple of other projects in the same state are still waiting approval from the Finance Ministry. Over three dozen projects on EPC mode are in the pipeline for awarding in the next 50 days.
Though National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has invited tenders for nearly a dozen such projects after pre-qualifying the contractors, these projects can be awarded only after the works are cleared by the finance ministry. NHAI is struggling even to reach the target of awarding 2,500 km against its already scaled down target of 4,800 km. The Union Highways Minister CP Joshi, on February 12 said that majority of the EPC projects cannot be awarded due to procedural issues.
For long, the Ministry and NHAI have been pushing for rationalisation of process and raise the financial bar of appraising and approving projects at highway secretary level so that the awarding can be sped up. If this proposal gets approval, most of the EPC contracts can be bid out at faster rate.