Road trip to India

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Being an avid traveller, I have had the opportunity to explore India. Travel was in all modes possible – but I love to travel by road the most.For the ones like us who love road trips, we tend to build an instant connection with the journey. Road trips will always find a special place in our heart.Travelling new places, new people, new languages, new landscape, it all becomes interesting.

But more than that, what we always remember is, how was the journey made. How did we go, where we took stops, what we ate and being true Indians, all the people I have met, have always asked me one common question, ‘How were the roads?’.

Of course, the questions were answered, but now the government has that answer for you too – ‘BharatMala’.

This is the government’s ambitious INR 7 lakh crores project to be rolled out under3 categories –Economic Corridors, Inter-corridor routes and feeder routes,aimed at connecting major cities with industrial hubs and optimising travel time with efficient roadways across the nation. ‘BharatMala’project, which got nod on October 25, is undoubtedly one of the biggest road infrastructure reforms project in the history of India.

Looking historically, the first such ambitious project for road reforms was envisaged back in 1999 during the Vajpayee government with the ‘Golden Quadrilateral Project’ aiming to connect all the 4 important metro cities at that point of time. It was India’s longest road project. “The highways we are building under the National Highways Development Project are not mere highways. They are the bhagyarekha (lines of destiny) on the hands of our nation. With these highways, we are writing a new destiny of India,” Mr. Vajpayee had quoted back then.

The statement still stands true, as the current government is also learned that transport infrastructure will provide the definite kick start to the economy which is currently being held captive by GST and job market woes. Subsuming all existing road projects, total of 34,800 kms of roads will be constructed under this project and is also expected to boost the associated industries like cement and steel sectors. This is a big stimulus injection in the economy by the government.

S. No. Type Length – kms Outlay (in rs. crores)
1. Economic Corridors routes 9,000 1,20,000
2. Inter corridor and feeder roads 6,000 80,000
3. Border and International Connectivity Roads 2,000 25,000
4. National Corridor Efficiency Programme 5,000 1,00,000
5. Greenfield Expressways 800 40,000
6. Coastal and Port Connectivity Roads 2,000 20,000
7. National Highway Development Programme 10,000 1,50,000
Total 34,800 5,35,000
Different types of routes and roads to be constructed under BharatMala

Where the money will come from and where will it go?

The money for such humongous project will be arranged via market borrowings, central road funds, monetising government-owned road assets, and budgetary allocation. Rs 2.09 lakh will come from market borrowing, Rs 1.06 lakh crore through private investment and Rs 2.19 lakh crore will come from the central road fund and through toll operate transfer model. Remaining Rs 1.57 lakh crore would be spent by NHAI for developing 48,877 km of roads.

As per the ministry of road transport and highways, the gross budgetary support for ‘BharatMala’ and the existing schemes from 2017-18 to 2021-22 would be restricted to Rs 2,37,024crore from Central Road Fund (CRF), Rs 59,973 crore as budgetary support, Rs 34,000 crore from expected monetisation through ToT route, and Rs 46,048 crore collected as Toll-Permanent Bridge Fee Fund (PBFF) by the NHAI.

There government has said that there are a lot of benefits to be received from this project

Improving connectivity in the North East by connecting all the north-east state capitals and key cities.

This project would help connect 550 districts through increased NH linkages from the present figure of 300 in the country,apart from decongesting cities.

The freight movement would increase from current 40% to 70-80% along national highways in the country. Currently, India’s 100,000km of national highways, which constitute just 2% of total road network in the country, bear 40% of the traffic.

The government expects the road construction programme to generate 100 million man-days of jobs during the construction phase and 22 million permanent jobs due to the increased economic activity triggered.

There will be 50 economic corridors compared to 6 in the present. This will increase the economic activities around such corridors as movement of goods will be relatively cheaper and faster.

t will also include construction, rehabilitation and widening of approx. 1,500 major bridges and 200 Railway Over and Under Bridges on National Highways.

The project would help reduce India’s supply chain cost to 6% from the present levels of 18%which make its exports uncompetitive vis-à-vis China, which has lower logistic costs of 8-10%.

These are some of the major benefits highlighted, but we hope so that this ambitious project doesn’t get caught by policy paralysis and red-tapism. The bottom line for this project is that key to its success will be its execution.

And for once, I hope to find cow-less roads and my google maps showing me congestion free road while I go for a long long drive.