Bharatmala Project, which was cleared by the Union Cabinet on October 25, is the second largest highways construction project in the country since NHDP, under which almost 50,000 km or highway roads were targeted across the country. Bharatmala will look to improve connectivity particularly on economic corridors, border areas and far flung areas with an aim of quicker movement of cargo and boosting exports.
The project is expected to create nearly 100 million man days of jobs during the road construction and subsequently 22 million jobs as a result of the increased economic activity across the country. The construction will be billed via several routes including debt funds, budgetary allocation, private investment, toll operator transfer model etc.
Bharatmala includes economic corridors of around 9,000 km, inter-corridor and feeder routes of around 6,000 km, 5,000 km roads under the National Corridors Efficiency Program, border and international connectivity roads of around 2,000 km, coastal and port connectivity roads of around 2,000 km, expressways of around 800 km and 10,000 km of NHDP roads. The total length in phase 1 comes to around 34,800 km.
Bharatmala project will start in Gujarat and Rajasthan, followed by Punjab and subsequently traversing the Himalayan belt through Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur (next to the Indo-Burmese border) and then to Mizoram. Northeastern states have been given special focus in the project and international trade is a key aspect as well.
The newer roads are expected to increase the speed of vehicles and decrease supply chain costs from the current average 18 per cent to six per cent. The Union Cabinet gave the nod to two big ticket infra projects on Tuesday with an outlay of Rs 6.92 lakh crore out of which Bharatmala Pariyojana shared Rs 5.35 lakh crore. It will also subsume 10,000 km roads under the National Highway Development Project (NHDP) program.
While the country reels under the impact of GST and demonetisation, Gadkari presented a meticulous plan to cut down costs and create jobs. “Bharatmala will bring down logistics cost, impacting exports and investment,” Gadkari said.
The main agencies tasked with the construction are the National Highways Authority of India, National Highway and Industrial Development Corporation and state public works departments.