NEW DELHI: ‘Build Roads to Move India’ is likely to be the government’s mantra for a proposed massive widening of highways across the country in the next 4-5 years. On Thursday, the road transport ministry presented before PM Narendra Modi it’s ambitious plan to expand 16,000 km of national highways into six lanes and another 14,000 km to four lanes.
About two dozen projects of six-laning would require an expenditure of at least Rs 2.5 lakh crore, which will be mobilised through a mix of 100% government funding or through public private partnerships.
Sources said the proposal has been prepared to improve the average speed of vehicles, particularly those transporting cargo. Thursday’s meeting was attended by highway minister Nitin Gadkari, top officials from his ministry besides officials from Niti Aayog and finance ministry. “Now the issues will be thrashed out among departments for implemention. Some of the identified corridors are already under expansion and have also been included in the Bharatmala scheme,” a government source said.
TOI has learnt that the ministry has proposed empowering the board of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to take decisions to implement the six-lane projects on the lines of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-era Golden Quadrilateral project — the country’s first major highway programme. Projects to be implemented by NHAI will connect areas of economic importance such as ports and manufacturing hubs.
Sources said the identified 14,000 km, which would be widened to four lanes, would be taken up by the ministry or its agencies such as the state public works departments. “GQ (Golden Quadrilateral) brought revolution in the highway sector connecting four corners of the country. But then little was done to improve connectivity across the country in a planned manner and hardly any ring roads were built to improve traffic movement.
Despite building so many kilometres of roads, we don’t see much difference in the average speed of cargo. That needs to be corrected,” said a government source.
Credits ET Realty