Road contracts simplified, 10,000-km target by March: Jaitley

New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) The government has begun awarding road construction contracts following a simplification of procedures in this regard and plans to award a total of 10,000 km of road projects by the end of the current fiscal, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Thursday.

“All procedures have been simplified. There is an exit policy, there is a hybrid model and so on. Various options of flexibility are there in the sector,” Jaitley said after a meeting here with bankers and contractors along with Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari.

He said 6,800 km of highway projects have already been awarded and by March this figure would go up to 10,000 km.

“With such large projects being awarded, I think it has a spiral effect on steel, cement, auto sector, and all is going to take place,” Jaitley said.

The success of highway programmes has taken the stress out of the banking sector and a large number of contractors are wanting to execute projects, the finance minister said.

“You didn’t have a single contractor responding to the tender. And today all major contracts attract multiple contractors’ bidding,” he said.

Jaitley said the government, the financial sector, financial services and the contractors who execute projects were currently meeting on how to expedite the national highways programme.

Gadkari told reporters that the meeting with the ministers is to be followed by a separate one of the stakeholders of 19 stalled road projects involving blocked investment of Rs.40,000 crore.

“My department says 5-6 of these problematic projects can be solved. In this meeting we hope to do it,” Gadkari said.

“In case we need to do some out-of-the box thinking on some difficult cases, I have suggested setting up a committee under the finance minister and with the secretaries of finance and road transport to decide on these,” he added.

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