New Delhi: The roads ministry is aiming to build 12,000 km of national highways in the current financial year in a bid to boost the pace of work to 40 km a day, Nitin Gadkari, minister for road transport and highways, said.

According to Gadkari, 10,800 km of highways were built in the last financial year when the pace of work had peaked at 32 km per day.

“This year, we will try and make it (total highway construction) 12,000 km,” Gadkari told ET on the sidelines of a press conference on Tuesday. The eventual increase of the daily pace of construction will happen over the next five years, he said.

“We have reached the 32 km/day pace as per norms established under the UPA. We are not even going by international standards,” Gadkari told reporters after taking charge of the ministry of road transport and highways and ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises.

The minister said BJP’s focus over the next five years would be to strengthen the country’s infrastructure and create jobs through small industries.

In its manifesto, the BJP has promised to invest Rs 100 lakh crore in the infrastructure sector, a significant amount of which is expected to go into construction of national highways and bullet train corridors, among other projects. The manifesto has also promised construction of 60,000 km of national highways over the next five years.

Gadkari said the Delhi-Mumbai expressway will lead to economic development in the backward areas of Rajasthan, Haryana and Ghaziabad, through which the highway passes.

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The minister also encouraged the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which is in charge of the expressway, to allow oil marketing companies to set up fuel stations along the 1,300 km-long expressway. “Around 2,000 petrol pumps can be set up along the Delhi-Mumbai expressway. The land anyway belongs to NHAI, which can earn `40-50 crore through this,” Gadkari said.

The minister said he has sent the Motor Vehicles Act to the cabinet for approval, and will try to table it in the upcoming session of Parliament. Gadkari held a review meeting of the highways ministry on Tuesday evening.



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