These sectors assumed significance under the first term of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government but the second administration under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has several focus areas in these sectors. These include disinvestment of Air India and Pawan Hans, development of airports, land acquisition for national highway projects, electrification of railway tracks, and the bullet train project.
In its manifesto ahead of the 2019 general elections, the BJP said its government would launch a massive ‘Rural Road Upgradation Programme’ to connect centres of education, healthcare centres, and markets with hinterlands to promote rural growth.
In the next five years, the government aims to construct 60,000 km of national highways, while doubling the length of these roads by 2022. However, it remains to be seen how the government works its way around the land acquisition problem due to which a number of national highway projects have been delayed. The government is also expected to focus on expediting some of its flagship road projects such as Bharatmala and Sagarmala.
Even as the NDA government under Narendra Modi came the closest to offloading its stake in debt-laden Air India, it failed to do so due to various factors such as the reluctance to let go of 100 per cent stake in the airline. However, the government had expressed its firm intention to conduct disinvestment of Air India, which is under a debt of more than Rs 50,000 crore. Further, one of the key bottlenecks seen in the growth story of India’s aviation story — which clocked double-digit traffic growth for two years — is lack of enough infrastructure growth.
In its manifesto, the BJP noted that in 2014 there were 65 functional airports and there are a total of 101 functional airports as of date, and in the next five years, the regime aims to double the number of functional airports in the country.
Like the roads sector, airports have also faced impediments in form land acquisition issues. Due to these hurdles, four greenfield airports worth around Rs 56,000 crore have been delayed even though contracts for development of these projects have been awarded.
Moreover, financial problems in the airlines segment, which is the cash conduit for the entire aviation sector, need to be resolved. Primarily, the problems pertain to Air India and the now suspended Jet Airways, which had almost 20,000 employees on its rolls.