Cabinet go-ahead for mega highway plan

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

In good news for the nation, the Cabinet on Tuesday approved a Rs 6.9 lakh crore project touted to be India's biggest ever highway development plan, to develop and expand around 83,000 km of roads by 2022.

Government's proposed Bharatmala Highway Project will be completed in next 5 years with an estimated cost of ₹7 lakh crores.

"With the implementation of this programme, India could get the much needed cost competitiveness in the manufacturing sector by bringing down the logistics cost which is now one of the highest among the emerging markets and way above that prevalent in developed economies", Mint quoted Jagannarayan Padmanabhan, director and practice lead, transport and logistics at CRISIL Infrastructure Advisory as saying.

Mr Gadkari said that development of projects under the umbrella programme would generate substantive employment opportunities across the country.

"Bharatmala will give the country 50 national corridors, compared with six at present". Even inter-country trade will be facilitated by improving infrastructure leading to border points apart from national security getting strengthened due to improved road connectivity.

While pruning the allocation for some of a scheme, the government has sought to ensure that the Bharatmala project does not face fund crunch over the next five years. Seventy to 80 per cent of freight will move along the national highways against 40 per cent at present.

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There will be 9,000 km of economic corridors, inter-corridor and feeder routes (6,000 km), national corridors efficiency improvement (5,000 km), border roads and global connectivity (2,000 km), coastal roads and port connectivity (2,000 km) and greenfield expressways (800 km) in the first phase. Bharatmala Phase I - is to be implemented over a five years period of 2017-18 to 2021-22.

As Bharatmala will require over Rs 5 lakh crore, the government has various fundraising plans under its sleeve.

Port connectivity will also be increased by building 2,000 km of roads in conjunction with Sagarmala.

"Bharatmala programme includes development of 44 Economic Corridors, 66 Inter Corridor Routes and 16 Feeder Routes".

For the BMP programme, Rs 2.09 lakh crore will be raised as debt from the market, Rs 1.06 lakh crore of private investments would be mobilized through PPP and Rs 2.19 lakh crore is to be provided out of accruals to the Central Road Fund (CRF), toll-operate-maintain transfer (ToT) monetisation proceeds and toll collections of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

The Bharatmala project will improve the connectivity with neighbouring countries for which a total of 24 integrated checkpoints (ICPs) have been identified.

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