Subsequently it has been mandated to implement the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) comprising 4 to 6 planning of 13,252 kms. of national highways having two components: (a) The Golden Quadrilateral connecting four metropolitan cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai & Kolkata (5952 km) and (b) North-South and East-West corridors (7300 km.), connecting Srinagar to Kanyakumari and Silchar to Saurashtra respectively and Salem to Cochin. Kamal Nath, the Former Commerce Minister, has been appointed Minister of Transport in the new Cabinet. He is likely to provide a new thrust to the building of highways and their up-gradation, a task hitherto neglected by his predecessors. The Vajpayee govt, had accorded the highest priority to the NHDP; but unfortunately the same urgency has not been shown by the new govt. The Golden Quadrilateral would have provided a big impetus to the infrastructure, but most of the corridors remain in a dismal state and work remains suspended, TR Balu, the previous Minister was mired in controversy and corruption. Roads Accelerate in $70 bn push: More than 100 projects to be available for bidding over the next three years, India Inc turn upbeat over prospects.
India would soon launch the world’s biggest public private partnership programme (PPP) that would give the country about 15,000 kms of roads and highways over the next three years. This would come at a cost of $70 billion (about Rs. 350, 000 Crore), Kamal Nath, Minister for Road Transport and Highways, told investors from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. “The issue of land acquisition is not a contentious one as far as road sector is concerned, it is only a managerial issue”, he said. “NHAI (National Highway Authority of India) does not put up a bid before 80 per cent of land for the road project has been acquired and the remaining 20 per cent is notified” for acquisition by the Governments in the various states under their Revenue Powers. To accelerate the road-building process, the government is also putting in place about 150 land acquisition units government bodies that would exclusively deal with necessary clearances. Land acquisition has turned out to be the single largest road block for development of the road sectors and has also led to lack of interest among investors in the recent past.
Urging foreign investors to come forward, Nath said the processes would be made “investor friendly” in the light of the experiences gained in the last five years. In this connection, it has to be emphatically pointed out that unlike the Railways in India; the National Highway Authority of India has not been conferred upon statutory powers to acquire lands in various parts of the country summarily.