On October 24th, 2017, the Government approved a series of projects focused on boosting infrastructure in the country. The total cost of the project is around Rs 7 lakh crore and also includes the visionary Bharatmala project. Under the Bharatmala project, 34,800 km of highways would be constructed at the cost of Rs 5.35 lakh crore.
The highway projects aims at the development of over 80,000 km of highways in the next five years. The ambitious project will considerably reduce the time taken for transporting goods, will generate job opportunities and will drastically improve road connectivity.
The Narendra Modi Government has consistently stressed on the need to enhance connectivity and accessibility with the introduction of new infrastructure programmes and speedy implementation of existing projects. Past projects have successfully tackled the issues of poor road conditions, lack of accessibility and over-all deficit in number of highways.
Under the new highway programme, key economic corridors will be the focus for which the Government has identified new routes between important cities that would be 20% longer in terms of distance but take relatively less travel time. The shortest road route between Mumbai and Cochin at present is 1,346 km, which takes 29 hours. However, the government has identified a 1,537-km route on this sector that will reduce travel time by five hours.
The project will be implemented phase wise for efficiency and accountability. In the first phase, a stretch of 1000 km will be completed from the projected 3,300 km proposed to be constructed along the eastern and western border. The project also includes the development of coastal roads which will improve port connectivity and enable port led development and coastal tourism.
NHAI, National Highway and Industrial Development Corporation (NHIDCL) and state public work departments have been given the responsibility for the successful execution of the biggest highway project yet. The Government has also taken steps to ensure that roads are developed under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. The central and state governments are expected to spend Rs 88,185 crore in the next three years for the construction of rural roads. The government has also approved almost Rs 11,000 crore for the construction and development of roads in states with left wing extremism.
The Government’s efforts to bring India’s infrastructure at par with international standards will give rise to job generation and a solid foundation for the ushering in of a New India.