Nath climbs down on daily road-building target

India is likely to build only 12-13 km of roads a day in the current fiscal year ending 31 March 2011 against the much-touted 20 km per day target, minister for road transport and highways Kamal Nath admitted today.

"The road ahead is very long. I can say only this," Nath said while addressing a conference on infrastructure organised by FICCI in New Delhi. "During 11 months of my tenure as road and transport minister, 32 projects have been awarded compared to just 8 projects in the preceding year," Kamal Nath said.

India had last year set a target of building 20 km of roads each day as part of its plans to improve infrastructure in the country, but achieved only less than half of that. Foreign investors have shied away from the sector even though the government has allowed 100 per cent foreign direct investment, due to problems in land acquisition and difficulties in collection of toll tax.

"This financial year (2010-11), we should be close to building 3,000 km," Nath said. But achieving that target will need an investment of about Rs200,000 crore annually, of which the government expects 60 per cent to come from the private sector, he said.

The minister also said that truckers would be given a national permit by 5 May that will enable their seamless travel across the country.

India, with a total length of 3.3 million km of roads, has the third-largest road network in the world, said a report by Ernst & Young today. Analysts estimate poor infrastructure shaves an estimated 1 or 2 percentage points off India's annual economic growth.