Published On:June 24 2024
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Roads Ministry Seeks Approval for Rs 22 Lakh Crore Highway Development Plan

In a significant move to bolster infrastructure, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has sought Cabinet approval for a Rs 22 lakh crore highway development plan, targeting the construction of approximately 30,600 km of highways by 2031-32.

The proposal, submitted to the Finance Ministry and shared with key ministries last week, outlines the construction of 18,000 km of expressways and high-speed corridors, the decongestion of 4,000 km of national highways around urban areas, and the development of strategic and international roads. Notably, 35% of the investment is expected to come from the private sector.

Sources from the Times of India reveal that the master plan is divided into two phases. Officials in an inter-ministerial meeting, chaired by Road Transport Secretary Anurag Jain, confirmed that all projects in phase one will be tendered by 2028-29 and completed by 2031-32. The Rs 22 lakh crore budget is allocated solely for phase one projects.

The ministry has also requested a 10% annual increase in its budget allocation. The interim budget allocated Rs 2,78,000 crore to the ministry, marking a 2.7% increase from the previous year.

The financial requirements for the second phase, which involves developing an additional 28,400 km, will be determined at a later date. The sanctioning and awarding of phase two projects are planned for completion by 2033-34, with construction wrapping up by 2036-37.

The ministry’s development plan is informed by an assessment of GSTN data, analyzing commodities transported by road and rail. The data from 2021-22 shows that 73% of freight was moved by road, with railways handling around 23%. For distances under 350 km, 82% of commodities were transported by road, while for distances over 600 km, 62% were road-transported.

Once the plan is fully realized, the average travel speed for trucks on the national highway network is expected to increase from the current 47 kmph to 85 kmph. In comparison, the average travel speed on highways is over 100 kmph in the US and 90 kmph in China. This speed increase is anticipated to help India reduce logistics costs to 9-10% of GDP.

The development of high-speed corridors aims to ensure accessibility within 100-150 km from any part of India. Presently, only 3,900 km of high-speed corridors are operational, with an expected increase to around 11,000 km by 2026-27.

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