Back from the US after having successfully negotiated a $3-billion loan from the World Bank for developing national highways, road and transport minister Kamal Nath on Friday said he is optimistic of achieving the target of building 7,000 km of roads a year. (See: World Bank sanctions $3 billion for national highways)
The World Bank assistance will be utilised to convert 6,372km of one-lane highways into two-lane. There are a total of 19,702-km single-lane highways in the country.
''They (World Bank) have, for the first time, informed me that they will be willing to fund the viability gap and also 50 per cent of our annuity projects,'' Nath told the media in Delhi. ''We are going to set up an expressway division in the next fortnight and I propose bringing in legislation for Expressway Authority of India,'' he added.
Later in an interview to CNBC-TV18, Nath said his biggest challenge is capacity building. He said currently the country was building 2 km of roads a day, but this should go up to 20 km. ''From 2 to 20 - we are going to make this quantum jump,'' he said.
''In this huge programme, the biggest challenge is capacity building. When you want to build 7,000 km a year, we have got to be having 20,000 km of work in progress. To manage 20,000 km of work in progress is a phenomenal job. So, we have got to do capacity building first at home,'' he said.