New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Friday proposed building 8,800 km of highway under the national highways development project (NHDP) for the 2012-13 fiscal.

“I propose to set a target of covering a length of 8,800 km under NHDP next year. The allocation of the ministry (road transport and highways) has been enhanced by 14 percent to Rs.25,360 crore in 2012-13,” Mukherjee told Lok Sabha while presenting the union budget 2012-13.

Mukherjee had set a target of awarding projects covering a length of 7,300 km under NHDP this fiscal which was 44 percent higher than the best ever length of 5,082 km awarded in 2010-11.

“Of the 44 projects awarded during 2011-12, 24 projects have fetched a premium,” he said..

Mukherjee also provided relief to the sector by fully exempting import duty on specific equipment used for road construction by contractors and the highways ministry. He extended the same facility for contracts awarded by metropolitan development authorities.

“Tunnel boring machines and parts for their assembly are covered by this exemption. I propose to allow their import free of duty without end-use condition,” Mukherjee explained.

The NHDP target set for the next fiscal seems a bit ambitious as the target for this fiscal is yet to be achieved. Last month Prime Minister Manmohan Singh directed the road transport and highways ministry to speed up the allocation of major projects. al.

“The ministry of road transport and highways has assured that 15 major projects of 1,547 km of roads and highways will be awarded within this financial year,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had said in statement.

Another 11 projects for 1,731 km of roads, it said, will be considered by the public private partnership (PPP) approval committee next week for speedy approval.

“This will ensure that the target for the current financial year of 7,999 km is met on time.”

(Source: IANS)