A separate authority would be constituted soon for expediting development of expressways. ''I am examining the possibility of setting up an expressway authority,'' road transport and highways minister Kamal Nath said in New Delhi.
Nath indicated that the new authority would be on similar lines as the National Highways Development Authority. ''There is a highway authority. Let there be an expressway authority as well,'' he told the media on the sidelines of a CII conference on infrastructure.
''We have to understand that with the world economy in stress, road building is not just a connectivity activity but also an economic stimulus. Expressways have to be looked at separately.''
Nath said this would provide impetus to those areas where expressways are required and ''we are looking at ways to partner state governments as well as the private sector''.
Nath said, ''In the next three months, we are going to have a paper (for setting up the authority), then take it to the cabinet so that we can take it to Parliament."
Nath admitted that radical changes were needed in the way his ministry operated. ''The ministry for road transport and highways needs a complete overhaul. We have to set strict time-bound targets to achieve our goal of constructing 7,000 km of road per year,'' he said.
In what could be another impetus to the development of roads in the country, the ministry is also mulling setting up a road finance corporation this year on the lines of the Power Finance Corporation. The corporation will help increase public investment in road building and make credit available to such projects.
He said his ministry is also looking at introducing ways of financing to attract international investors in the road sector. "India remains a very good parking lot as an investment destination. We are looking at innovative ways of financing - equity financing, debt financing, pension fund financing," Nath said.