New Delhi: Having missed the target of building 20 km of national highways a day, the Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highways has said that projects under implementation would touch a staggering 23,000 km by 2012-13, enabling it to meet the target.

The issue was discussed recently at a meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to review the progress of infrastructure projects.

According to the minutes of the meeting, Singh had expressed concerns over not achieving the target of building 20 km of road a day despite after two years of announcement.

"Shelf of awarded (under implementation) projects is being increased, and will touch about 23,000 km by 2012-13, by which time the total rate of completion of National Highways will touch 20 km a day," an official document said.

The Prime Minister had said that UPA-II had made a public announcement of building 20 km of roads a day but so far the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has not been able to achieve the target.

"The target of completing 20 km a day is neither excessive, given our needs, nor unrealistic, given the priority we attach to this sector."

"However, completing a certain length of road is an outcome, and is critically dependent on the pace at which we complete feasibility reports, acquire land and secure environment and forest clearances, and invite and award bids.

The decision making process needs to be speeded up at each stage," Singh had said.

Soon after the formation of the UPA-II government at the Centre, former Highways Minister Kamal Nath had set an ambitious target of building 35,000 km of roads by 2014 which translated into a target of developing 20 km of roads a day.

The PM has directed the Ministry that it should take up a large number of projects for detailed project report preparation, "say about 15,000 km" as this will result in a good progress on ground in next few years.

Talking about under-achievement of targets, the PM had said that even though there had been a distinct increase in award of projects last year, only 1,780 km were completed against a target of 2,500 km.

On the expenditure front, the Ministry could spend Rs 27,902 crore against Rs 35,680 crore allotments.

Meanwhile, the award of projects has gained momentum and to bridge the road deficit, the government is looking at an investment of over 2.64 lakh crore in the road sector in the next five years, over 65 per cent of which will come from the private sector. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will shell out Rs 87,000 crore while the remaining 1.77 lakh crore is envisaged from the private players.

Transport Minister CP Joshi said that all efforts are being made to accelerate road building process. During the January-June period this year, the NHAI has completed work in a length of 1,042 km. It awarded 5,058 km of highways in 2010-11.

The Transport Ministry has set a target of awarding 7,300 km of roads in the current fiscal. India has a large network of 3.3 million km roads out of which national highways constitute only 70,548 km.

(Agencies)