The country infrastructure is being spruced up like never before. The Government of India is leaving no stone unturned in trying to bridge the gaps in our infrastructure by identifying critical bottlenecks in the smooth flow of people and goods across the country. Apart from prioritising the development of airports, strengthening of the port sector, moving the railways towards building high speed rail infrastructure, the Centre is paying adequate attention to the construction of the crucial roads and highways infrastructure across the country. The Budget 2018 further gave a bigger push to the development of National Highways as the budgetary allocation increased from Rs 61,000 crore in FY2017-18 to Rs 71,000 crore in FY2018-19. More than 60% of all goods and 85% of total passenger traffic goes through the roads. The country is focussing on achieving road construction of 41-km per day in place of the current 23-km a day. Sandeep Sharma takes a look at the roads and highways sector.
In order to optimise the efficiency of road traffic movement across the length and breadth of the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps, the Government of India has come up with Bharatmala programme. It’s a new umbrella program for the highways sector that would provide NH linkage to 550 districts, and be a major driver for economic growth in the country. The Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Nitin Gadkari had said earlier that under Bharatmala programme, highways works worth Rs 8 lakh crore will begin before the end of 2018.
Bharatmala proposes to give 50 national corridors as opposed to the current 6. With this, 70 – 80 percent of freight will move along NH as against the 40 percent at present. The programme will help to connect 550 Districts in the country through NH linkages. Currently, only around 300 Districts have NH linkages.
Under Phase-I of Bharatmala programme, a total of around 24,800 kms are being considered. The project first phase also includes 10,000 kms of balance road works under NHDP, taking the total to 34,800 kms at an estimated cost of Rs.5,35,000 crore. Bharatmala Phase I – is to be implemented over a five years period of i.e. 2017-18 to 2021-22.