An acute labour shortage has hit highway construction in April-May. Just 847 km of highways were constructed in the country during the first two months of this fiscal, compared with 1,692 km in the year-ago period.
A total of 10,237 km highways were constructed in the whole of 2019-20. The year 2018-19 was the best so far, with total construction touching a record high of 10,885 km or 29.82 km a day.
Given the productivity loss during Covid-19 lockdown, followed by limited labour availability, the overall construction activity has been muted in the first quarter of FY21. Even assuming a pick-up in the coming quarters, execution of projects in FY21 is estimated to be lower by around 22% against the target, said ICRA vice-president Rajeshwar Burla.
For the current fiscal, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has set a construction target of 10,250 km.
Even before the onset of Covid, construction slowed downed in 2019-20, largely due to the general elections in May and a liquidity crunch. The outbreak of the pandemic only made matters worse.