The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the proposal for a change in the delegation of powers for appraisal and approval of National Highways projects. This will simplify the appraisal and approval of the National Highway projects. At present, projects of Rs.500 crore or above require investment approval of the CCEA but projects below Rs. 500 crore have varying appraisal and approval levels, depending on the source of funding and mode of implementation of projects.
National Highways projects above Rs. 500 crore would now be appraised by a Committee chaired by Secretary, Expenditure or the PPPAC, as applicable and approval will be given by the CCEA in accordance with extant guidelines and instructions.
Appraisal of projects below Rs. 500 crore, other than those to be appraised by Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) would be carried out by Standing Finance Committee (SFC) chaired by Secretary, Road Transport & Highways (RTH) with the approval by Minister, RTH subject to fulfilment of certain conditions. In case conditions are not satisfied, the proposal would be brought before the Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC) or Committee chaired by Secretary, Expenditure for public funded projects and sent to the CCEA for decision. In case of a difference of opinion or dissent by members of the SFC representing Planning Commission / Department of Economic Affairs / Financial Adviser regarding approval of the project, the dissent would be recorded and considered by the Minister, Road Transport and Highways for an appropriate decision.
The delegation available with MoRTH for appraisal and approval of projects as result of this rationalisation will be raised to Rs. 500 crore. With increase in costs over time, a large number of projects taken up by MoRTH are in the range of Rs. 300 crore to Rs. 500 crore. Since the process of formulation and appraisal of National Highway projects is well established after the adoption of the prescribed bid process, model contract documents and manuals of specification and standards by MoRTH, this delegation is expected to expedite the approval process without compromising on due diligence and physical prudence.