The Centre is planning to establish a national expressway authority for building expressways, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Kamal Nath said here on Wednesday.

Delivering the inaugural address at the fifth International Construction Equipment and Construction Technology Fair here, Mr. Kamal Nath said the establishment of the authority would require approval of legislation by Parliament. It would facilitate the building of expressways running for 17,000 km in the next few years. The speed of implementation of the project “would depend on the extent of cooperation offered by State governments,” he said.

Mr. Kamal Nath said about 7-8 km of roads were being added to the network every day, up from about 1.2 km per day a year ago.

$3 b World Bank loan

“By March 2010 we hope to add 20 km of roads every day,” he said. The Government “has tied up funds till 2010 for these projects,” he said.

The Government plans to borrow about $3 billion from the World Bank to fund two-laning of about 7,000 km of roads.

“These proposals are being formulated,” he said.

Mr. Kamal Nath said the economic stimulus provided by the construction of roads “can spread incomes like no other expenditure.”

He said about 20,000 km of roads was “work in progress”, undertaken at the cost of Rs. 2 lakh crore.

Indian earthmoving and Construction Industry Association Chairman Ranaveer Sinha said the turnover of the Indian construction equipment industry was about $4-5 billion, compared to the global turnover of over $100 billion.

This segment was likely to double its turnover in the next 4-5 years, he added.

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