After Bharat Mala and Sagar Mala — aimed at improving road connectivity in border areas and coastal regions respectively — the government has now cleared plans to connect 100 of the 676 district headquarters in the country with world-class highways.
The Rashtriya Rajmarg Zila Sanjoyokta Pariyojna, approved by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a review meeting last week, entails development of 6,600 km of highways at an estimated cost of about Rs 60,000 crore.
“Under the Rashtriya Rajmarg Zila Sanjoyokta Pariyojna, roads will be developed to connect 100 district headquarters across the country. The 6,600 km of national highways do not have uniform configuration across the length… These would be upgraded to ensure better connectivity,” said a senior official in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).
The government has backed up this mega push for roads development projects with policy initiatives designed to facilitate resource mobilisation. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday approved an exit policy permitting developers to exit highway projects two years after completion of construction to release locked-in equity as potential capital for future projects. Additionally, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has been authorised to loan resources from its corpus at a pre-determined rate of return to kickstart stalled projects. Earlier, the government cleared the Bharat Mala project aimed at developing 5,600 km of new roads in border areas at an estimated cost of Rs 56,000 crore. Another 4,700 km of roads to connect religious and tourism centres and to enhance connectivity in backward areas is expected to cost Rs 44,000 crore.
The third leg of the NDA government’s push to kickstart growth through mega road building projects is the development of bridges and rail overbridges under the Setu Bharatam scheme. “We will construct 202 ROBs and 150 bridges on national highways under the Setu Bharatam initiative,” said an official of MoRTH.
“We are awarding road projects at the pace of over 8,000 km every year. At this rate, we would achieve our targets by the end of next financial year. We are lining up new projects to have our infra plan ready,” said the official. Last year, the government awarded 7,900 km of highway projects, more than double the 3,170 km awarded in 2013-14. However, only 700 km are being executed under the public-private partnership mode on a build, operate, transfer (BOT) basis. These projects are to be completed over the next three years.
Highway projects: Exit policy cleared for developers
New Delhi: The government on Wednesday cleared the decks for the much-awaited exit policy which would allow developers to exit highway projects two years after completion of construction. The move is expected to immediately unlock investments to the tune of Rs 4,500 crore as potential capital for future projects and provide a thrust to the roads development sector.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) additionally approved a special intervention and authorised the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to inject funds on a loan basis in projects that are at advanced stages of completion but are stuck due to lack of additional equity or lender’s inability to disburse further resources. ENS