The National Highways Development Authority, which is responsible for awarding all national-level road projects, has sought the Election Commission's (EC) permission for awarding 19 highway projects worth about Rs 22,000 crore, bids for which have already been received.
The EC's permission is needed to award government projects after the announcement of general elections. The public sector undertaking has also asked the government for relaxation of customs and excise duty on inputs needed for construction of roadways.
The total length of the 19 projects is about 1000 km, a NHAI official said. The authority received bids from private developers for only these 19 out of the 37 projects it had offered under the national highway development programme (NHDP).
''The process (to award contracts to winning bidders) is on and it will take some time. We have asked the Election Commission for permission to award these projects as bids were invited last year,'' NHAI director (finance) A Didar Singh said at a construction summit jointly organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Construction Federation of India.
There were a number of projects for which only a single bid had been received. This issue is also being resolved, Singh said. ''The projects for which a single bid has been received would be awarded on build, operate and transfer (BOT) toll basis,'' he said. The highways development agency has asked the cabinet to allow it to open the only bid for such projects.
The NHAI had developed 1,693 km of highways till 31 January this fiscal year, against a target of 2,442 km under various phases of the NHDP. The apex highway development agency has planned to award nearly 50 projects in the coming financial year.
The Planning Commission is also working on a plan that will provide gross budgetary support, possibly through viability gap funding, for development of 40,000 km of roads in the country. ''We are looking for suggestions on the source of funding,'' Planning Commission member Anwarul Hoda told the conference.
The government is also planning to table a land acquisition bill in Parliament to facilitate land acquisition for infrastructure projects, which is one of the major hurdles faced by developers, he added.