First highway project under Bharatmala by 2018-end : Gadkari

First highway project under Bharatmala by 2018-end : Gadkari

The Union Cabinet on Tuesday nodded in approval for road building projects worth Rs. 7 lakh crore, including the ambitious "Bharatmala programme" launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Government.

The aim is to improve infrastructure, entail faster transportation and generate employment.

The first phase includes 24,800 km of roads, including 9,000 of economic corridors, 2,000 km each of border and coastal roads, and 800 km of greenfield expressways, as well as 10,000 km of balance road works under the National Highway Development Programme, taking the total length of roads to 34,800 km at an estimated cost of Rs 5,35,000 crore. And the rest of Rs 1.57 lakh crore will be spent on the construction of 48,877 km of roads by the state-run National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and the ministry of road transport and highways. "The programme will help connect 550 districts through national highways, compared with around 300 districts at present", Gadkari said. He said the programme has been created to bridge the gaps in the existing highways infrastructure so as to make the movement of man and material more efficient.

He said 44 economic corridors being created with thrust on job creation.

Projects such as economic corridors and coastal roads and port connectivity, worldwide connectivity, border roads, roads connecting economically important nodes, green field expresswayswill be brought under its aegis.

Noting that Bharatmala is the "biggest ever programme approved by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in its history", Gadkari said it will enable the country to bridge the "highway sector infra deficit" by 2022. Presently only six national corridors have in the country.

"Under the project, 6,000 km of inter-corridor and feeder routes will be constructed to ensure holistic connectivity", Finance Secretary Ashok Lavasa said. 70 to 80 per cent of freight will move along the national highways against 40 per cent at present. Bharatmala Phase-I will be implemented over a five years period of i.e. 2017-18 to 2021-22. In the first phase which will be undertaken for over three to five years, the project would cost Rs 5.5 lakh crore.

Bharatmala also envisages building 3,300 km border roads and 2,000 km global connectivity roads. The 49 km corridor will provide a direct link to NH-10 (towards Rohtak) and NH-8 (towards Gurgaon) for vehicles entering the city from Karnal.

"With the government spending more on EPC under Bharatmala, it should certainly help not only the road industry but also the economy", said another analyst.

For projects not covered under the Bharatmala programme, Rs97,000 crore will be provided by the CRF and Rs59,000 crore will be provided as gross budgetary support.

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