Business

NHAI Chairman on road to becoming Bihar Chief Secretary

Written by PaperDabba

Deepak Kumar, Chairman, National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), is set to join as Bihar’s Chief Secretary. The Deepak Kumar, who was instrumental in awarding the longest-ever stretch of national highways last year, thinks meeting the ambitious construction target of 6,000 km a challenge. “That is because meeting the construction target will need doubling the construction rate,” he said.

Deepak Kumar, a Bihar cadre IAS, spent less than a year at the helm at NHAI. He will be moving as the top bureaucrat of Bihar, after being asked by both the State and Central government about his willingness to be posted as the Chief Secretary of the Bihar, according to a source close to deepak Kumar.

Yudhvir Singh Malik, Secretary, Road Transport Ministry, who was Chairman of NHAI, before Kumar took over, has been given additional charge of the government arm that oversees construction and maintenance of highways.

deepak Kumar had joined as NHAI Chairman in June last year, after spending two years as head of the Employee State Insurance Commission.

In 2017-18, NHAI awarded 150 road projects of 7,400 km involving an investment of ₹1,22,000 crore. This was an all-time since 1995, when the organisation was formed. Road-building efforts picked up pace after the Bharatmala programme was sanctioned in October 2017; it particularly aimed at connecting rural and remote parts of the country.

Under Bharatmala, 232 projects were tendered out, involving around 11,200 km of road length costing more than ₹1,96,000 crore. Under Deepak Kumar, NHAI also started offering a variety of digital options to its users for paying tolls.

“Speeding up award of contracts after the sanction of Bharatmala, providing better facilities through electronic tolling, highway nests, wayside amenities, toll free numbers for accident management were some of the important areas where NHAI fared well,” Deepak Kumar told BusinessLine.

NHAI resorted to employing a number of retired officers and put in place a strong monitoring system to speed up land acquisition. “But for the delay in land acquisition in some States, the award figure could have been still higher,” an official statement had stated.

Most projects were funded by government: 3,791 km length was awarded on EPC mode at a cost of ₹43,000 crore; 3,396 km was awarded on Hybrid Annuity mode at a cost of ₹ 76,500 crore and 209 km on toll mode at a cost of ₹2,500 crore.

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