The Minister of Road Transport & Highways, Shipping, Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Nitin Gadkari has said that highways works worth Rs 8 lakh crore will begin before the end of 2018 under the Bharatmala Pariyojana. He was speaking to media persons in New Delhi on October 25 , a day after the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi approved Phase I of Bharatmala Pariyojana. Bharatmala is a new umbrella program for the highways sector that focuses on optimizing efficiency of road traffic movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps.
Shri Gadkari said that Bharatmala will be a major driver for economic growth in the country, and help realize Prime Minister Shri Modi’s vision of a New India. He said the programme has been designed to bridge the gaps in the existing highways infrastructure so as to make the movement of man and material more efficient. Special attention has been paid to fulfill the connectivity needs of backward and tribal areas, areas of economic activity, places of religious and tourist interest, border areas, coastal areas and trade routes with neighbouring countries under the programme.
The Minister also said that Bharatmala will give the country 50 national corridors as opposed to the 6 we have at present. 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. Bharatmala will also have a positive impact on the Logistic Performance Index (LPI) of the country. Apart from this, the Minister said the programme will also help generate a large number of direct and indirect employment in the construction activity, the development of highways amenities and also as part of the enhanced economic activity in different parts of the country that will result from better road connectivity .
A total of around 24,800 kms are being considered in Phase I of Bharatmala. In addition, Bharatmala Pariyojana phase –I 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. Components of Phase I and estimated expenditure are as follows :