The first project under Bharatmala is expected to be awarded by the end of next year as the land acquisition
process and detailed project reports for the mega infrastructure scheme are underway, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari
said on Wednesday. Gadkari said the government was hopeful that the scheme would elicit a great response from the private sector.
All the projects under Bharatmala would be technically, financially and economically appraised by an empowered project appraisal and technical scrutiny committee under the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, he said. Guidelines for the scrutiny of projects have already been laid down.
He said a “grand challenge” mechanism would be adopted to encourage state government participation for implementing the programme, and the projects supported by states would be taken up on priority.
The minister said the programme was designed to bridge the gaps in the existing highways infrastructure so as to make the movement of man and material more efficient. Special attention, he said, had been paid to fulfil the connectivity needs of backward and tribal areas, areas of economic activity, places of religious and tourist interest, border areas, coastal areas, and trade routes with neighbouring countries.
He said once the scheme was implemented, 70-80 per cent freight would move along the national highways as against the current 40 per cent.
The Union Cabinet
on Tuesday cleared the Rs 7-lakh-crore Bharatmala programme to construct 20,000 km of highways connecting western and eastern parts of the country. In the first phase, which will be undertaken for over three to five years, it would cost Rs 5.5 lakh crore. The average cost of constructing one km of road is Rs 13 crore.
Around 24,800 km of roads are being considered in the Phase-I. In addition, the programme would include 10,000 km of balance road works under NHDP, taking the total to 34,800 km at an estimated cost of Rs 5,35,000 crore.
The programme has identified around 26,200 km of economic corridors that have heavy freight traffic, of which 9,000 km is being taken up for development in Phase-I at an estimated cost of Rs 1,20,000 crore.
The gross budgetary support for Bharatmala and the existing schemes from 2017-18 to 2021-22 would be restricted to Rs 2,37,024 crore from Central Road Fund (CRF), Rs 59,973 crore as budgetary support, Rs 34,000 crore from expected monetisation through ToT route, and Rs 46,048 crore collected as Toll-Permanent Bridge Fee Fund (PBFF) by the NHAI.
The roads that would be built under Bharatmala would include state highways, national highways, and some state roads.
Bharatmala is the second-largest highways project
after the National Highway Development Programme (NHDP) that saw the development of about 50,000 km.
The programme that was mooted in April 2015 aims to connect Gujarat and Rajasthan, then move to Punjab and cover Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand followed by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and further to Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and right up to the Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur and Mizoram.
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. According to government estimates, the construction of 10,000 km of highways annually has the potential of generating four crore man-days of work.
Bharatmala was proposed on the lines of Sagarmala in which a string of ports will be built in the Indian Ocean to protect maritime interests. The government plans to improve road connectivity not just to coastal and border areas but also backward areas.