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Rs 7 lakh cr cleared for road expansion; thousands to get jobs: Highlights

This could also put to rest allegations that the Narendra Modi government has failed to create employment opportunities

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

Highway expansion
Highway

The government on Tuesday approved Rs 7 lakh crore worth highway projects including the ambitious Bharatmala, Ashok Lavasa,Finance Secretary said.

The development comes barely few months after Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the government will soon launch the Bharatmala project to build over 20,000 km of highways in the first phase.

Bharatmala is a mega plan of the government and the second-largest highways project after NHDP that saw the development of about 50,000 km, and aims at improving connectivity in border and other areas.

A study under the proposed Bharatmala project by global consultancy firm AT Kearney had identified 44 economic corridors.

The Prime Minister's Office, earlier this year, had asked for Public Investment Board's (PIB) clearance to the first phase of the project. PIB, chaired by the expenditure secretary had later approved it.

Highlights: 

DEA Secretary S C Garg: Over 83,677 km roads to be built in 5 years; 6.92 lakh cr to be invested in infrastructure

Finance secretary: Govt cleared Rs 5.35 lakh cr Bharatmala road project; also to remove choke points in current road projects

Bharatmala Road Project fine print: 34,800 km to be constructed Rs 5.35 lakh cr to be invested via projects

Bharatmala Road Project fine print: 9,000 km eco corridors; 6,000 km inter-corridor feeder routes; 5000 km national corridor efficiency improvement

Bharatmala Road Project fine print: 2,000 km Border Roads for intl connectivity; 2,000 km Coastal Roads; 800 km Greenfield expressways

Bharatmala Road Project fine print: Rs 2.09 lakh crore from market borrowing; Rs 1.1 lakh cr from private investments; Rs 2.19 lakh cr from CRF/TOT/ Toll

Focus of the plan

The aim is to improve the speed of traffic flow on key corridors by providing uniform four-lane roads between two identified points.
 
These corridors will permit faster movement of cargo vehicles. "The new highway development programme is both building roads and improving mobility to reduce logistic cost. Better road network and rolling out of smart-tag based tolling will transform the road transport sector," said an official privy to the government's plan.

According to the ministry's estimates, construction of 10,000 km of highways annually has the potential of generating four crore man-days of employment.

This could also put to rest allegations that the government has failed to create employment opportunities.

The approval comes months after the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways had estimated a fund requirement of about Rs 6.92 lakh crore for the development of National Highways in the country during the next five years.

In July, Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya informed the Rajya Sabha that the ministry had identified 208 level crossings on National Highways for construction of ROBs under Setu Bharatam Scheme and feasibility study of 87 ROB projects has been completed so far. Also Read: Govt needs Rs 7 lakh cr investment in 5 yrs for highway development

Highlights

— Centre approves Rs 7 lakh crore investment for expansion of roads
— Government wants NHAI to go in for international business
— Plans to diversify NHAI to build logistics parks

NHAI to get a makeover

Earlier, Business Standard reported how the Centre is planning to enlarge the role of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) beyond just highway construction.

It not just wants NHAI to go in for international business but also plan for logistics parks. The NHAI’s enhanced role would come along with greater financial autonomy, including raising funds from overseas and renewed focus on building expressways.

Greater financial and decision-making autonomy for the authority would allow it to execute and implement projects and take critical financial decisions independently.

“Diversification of the NHAI’s role is a great idea but first there should be greater autonomy for the body and then diversification. The ministry (of road transport and highways) should distance itself from the authority,” Abhaya Agarwal, partner and PPP leader, EY India, said. (To read the entire report click here)

Expressways and highways

On the expressways front, work has commenced on the Rs 44,000-crore Mumbai-Vadodara expressway.

The 380 km-long expressway is part of the golden quadrilateral project and passes through various locations in the Thane district of Maharashtra besides the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli as well as Valsad, Navsari, Surat and Bharuch in Gujarat. 

The Union Cabinet has also approved construction of a new expressway (Delhi-Jind-Amritsar-Katra) passing through Haryana and the Delhi-Jaipur road, an extension of National Highway 8.

First Published: Tue, October 24 2017. 17:10 IST
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