The highway and rail infrastructure registered a record growth in 2020-21 despite the Covid pandemic impacting the first quarter of the year. National highway construction touched 35.6km per day, which is nearly 27% more than that of 2019-20. The Railways recorded the highest ever loading at 1,224 million tonnes, which was 2% more than the total freight transported by the national transporter in 2019-20.
While the cumulative NH construction at 13,000 km exceeded the target set by the highways ministry by 18%, the government could achieve the target in award of contracts at 10,000 km.
Sources said while NHAI, which mostly constructs highways of four lanes and more reported the highest ever construction of around 4,100 km, falling a little short of the target, the construction and widening of highways by the road ministry was close to 7,750 km compared to the target of 5,680 km.
NHIDCL, another wing of highways ministry that undertakes road works in the northeast and hill states, reported construction of 1,053 km in 2020-21. Addressing officials on Wednesday, Union railway minister Piyush Goyal said the total loading of freight was 1,224 million tonnes (MTs) and it was expected to touch1,230 MTs by the evening. He said this achievement was registered despite the shortfall of 70 MTs during the first four month of 2020-21. Goyal said railways had been setting records every month since September registering the highest ever loading of freight. Railway ministry officials also said the revenue from freight movement had touched Rs 1.17 lakh crore on early Wednesday, which was 3% more than 2019-20. “This figure may increase a bit by Wednesday midnight,” said a source.