The Government of India launched “Bharatmala Pariyojana”, a new umbrella program for the highways sector that focuses on optimizing the efficiency of road traffic movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps. The project covering a whopping 34800 km of the road would be completed in a phased manner.
The Bharatmala Pariyojana was announced by Mr.Nitin Gadkari, the Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India to improve the road network in the country. The budget for the scheme will be managed by the cess collected on petrol and diesel and the tax collected at toll booths, apart from the budgetary support provided by the Government.
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The components of Bharatmala Pariyojana are
- Development of Economic corridors – 9,000 Kms
- Inter-corridor & feeder roads – 6,000 Kms
- Improving the efficiency of National Corridors – 5,000 Kms
- Border & International connectivity roads – 2,000 Kms
- Coastal & port connectivity roads – 2,000 Kms
- Expressways – 800 Kms
- Balance of NHDP works – 10000 Kms
The Bharatmala project envisions improving the efficiency of the National Corridor including the Golden-Quadrilateral and North, South –East West corridor by decongesting the choke points through the construction of elevated corridors, bypasses, ring roads, lane expansion, and logistics parks at identified points.
The project plan includes the construction of Border Roads of strategic importance along international boundaries and International Connectivity roads to promote trade with Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.
The program has identified around 26,200 km of Economic Corridors or routes that have heavy freight traffic. The program has planned to develop the identified Economic Corridors with heavy freight traffic, end to end to ensure seamless, speedy travel and uniformity in standards. Feeder Corridors will be developed to address the infrastructure asymmetry that exists in many places.
All projects implemented under Bharatmala are to be technically, financially, and economically appraised by an empowered Project Appraisal &Technical Scrutiny Committee to be set up in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).
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Features of Bharatmala Pariyojana
The scheme was initiated to improve road traffic and improve trade through road transportation. Some other key features of the Bharatmala Pariyojana include:
- The main aim was to improve the quality of roads to bring in a wave of development in every corner of the country.
- The construction of new roads is another important feature of the announcement for this scheme.
- The Government plans to finish the construction of all the roads, under this scheme, within a period of five years.
- Since the fund provided by the Government may not be sufficient for the construction of roads, hence the Ministry relies on various other sources for the completion of this project.
- The project aims to construct multiple roads and for the proper execution of the project, the Ministry has decided to divide the project into various categories for proper construction of the roads.
Challenges of Bharatmala Project
The Bharatmala project was announced in 2017 and was targetted to get completed by 2022. However, the latest reports suggest that the project currently is nowhere close to completion because of the increased land cost and the increase in the estimated budget for the project.
The Central Government is now looking in for more investments from funds collected from the market and any other private investment. If the estimated budget is not met, then the Government intends to auction completed highway projects or even look for foreign debts and bond markets.
The government will mobilize resources for Bharatmala through four different routes:
- Market borrowings
- Central road fund
- Monetizing government-owned road assets
- Budgetary allocation
Of the total amount, Rs. 2 Lakh Crore are to be raised as debt from market borrowings, while Rs. 1 Lakh crore will be used from the accrued money in Central Road Fund and toll collections by NHAI.
This project will help in the economic growth of the country by increasing the corridors from 6 to 50. The Central Government, with the Bharatmala Project intent to increase trade, improve the condition of the National Highways, and improve the network of roads in the country.
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