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To augment highways infrastructure, projects involving investment of Rs 1 lakh crore were restructured in 2016-17 besides formulation of ambitious "Bharatmala" project and launch of "Sethu Samundram" schemes, the Economic Survey said today. "In the year 2016-17, around 88 per cent of the projects involving around Rs 1,00,000 crore of investment have been appropriately re-engineered and restructured by proactive policy interventions and rigorous monitoring by the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways (MORTH) and National Highways Authority of India," the second part of the Survey tabled in Parliament today said. The Survey said the sector faced constraints like availability of land for National Highways expansion and upgradation and significant increase in land acquisition cost. Other problems plaguing the sector include lack of equity with developers and too many bottlenecks and checkpoints on NHs which could adversely impact benefits of GST besides higher cost of financing and lesser traffic growth. It said the Government has proposed "Bharatmala Programme" with a view to develop the road connectivity to border areas, development of coastal roads including road connectivity for non major ports, improvement in the efficiency of National Corridors, development of Economic Corridors/ Feeder routes, removal of choke and congestion points, construction of ring roads and logistics parks. Besides, it has initiated separate programme 'Setu Bharatam' in 2016 for construction, rehabilitation & widening of 1,500 major bridges and 208 Railway Over Bridges (ROBs) / Railway Under Bridges (RUBs) on National Highways. India has about 54.8 lakh kms of road network, which is the second largest in the world. The Survey pointed out that as on March 31, 2017, out of total road network the length of national highways comprises 1.14 lakh km with 1.61 lakh km of state highways and 52 lakh kms of other roads. In 2001, total road length was 33 lakh km with total number of 55 million vehicles on the roads. "In 2015, total road length increased to 54,72,144 km while the total number of motor vehicles grew four times to 210 million," the Survey said. The composition of vehicle shows that the share of two wheelers and passenger cars, jeep & taxis has increased on Indian road while the share of public transport like buses and also goods vehicles contracted over the period. Both the two-wheelers and passenger cars are putting pressure on Indian roads, it said adding, realising the need, the Government is developing more roads and taking a lot of major initiatives/programmes like National Highways Development Projects, improvement of road connectivity in Left Wing Extremism affected areas, Special Accelerated Road Development Programme for North-Eastern region, National Highway Interconnectivity Improvement Programme under proposed World Bank Loan Assistance.
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