Road Ministry Seeks Rs 22 Lakh Crore for Major Highway Expansion, Targeting 30,600 km by 2031-32

Road Ministry Seeks Rs 22 Lakh Crore for Major Highway Expansion, Targeting 30,600 km by 2031-32

Road Ministry Seeks Rs 22 Lakh Crore for Major Highway Expansion, Targeting 30,600 km by 2031-32 (Representational pic )

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The ambitious plan aims to develop 30,600 km of highways, including expressways and high-speed corridors, by 2031-32.

24 June, 2024

In a significant move towards enhancing infrastructure, the road transport and highways ministry is seeking Cabinet approval for a massive Rs 22 lakh crore investment in a highway development plan that aims to cover approximately 30,600 km by 2031-32. This comprehensive plan, recently submitted to the finance ministry and shared with key ministries, includes the construction of 18,000 km of expressways and high-speed corridors, the decongestion of 4,000 km of national highways around urban areas, and the development of strategic and international roads.

About 35% of the funding for this ambitious project is expected to come from private sector investments. Sources reveal that the master plan for highway development is structured in two phases. During an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by road transport secretary Anurag Jain, officials discussed the roadmap for tendering all projects under phase-1 by 2028-29, with a completion target set for 2031-32. The Rs 22 lakh crore estimate pertains specifically to the projects included in the first phase.

The ministry has also requested a 10% annual increase in budgetary allocation to facilitate project implementation. In the interim budget, the government had allocated Rs 2,78,000 crore to the ministry, reflecting a 2.7% increase from the previous financial year.

The financial estimates for the second phase, which aims to develop an additional 28,400 km, will be determined later. According to the plan, the sanctioning and awarding of projects under phase-2 are to be completed by 2033-34, with construction expected to be finished by 2036-37.

The ministry’s development plans were formulated after assessing GSTN data on commodities transported from point to point, taking into account cargo movement by trains as well. The data indicated that nearly 73% of freight was transported by road in 2021-22, with railways accounting for about 23%. For distances under 350 km, 82% of goods were moved by road, while for distances over 600 km, 62% were transported by road.

Upon completion of these projects, the average travel speed of trucks on the national highway network is expected to increase from the current 47 kmph to 85 kmph. For comparison, the average travel speed on highways is over 100 kmph in the US and 90 kmph in China. The government anticipates that this increase in speed will help India achieve its goal of reducing logistics costs to 9-10% of GDP.

High-speed corridors have been strategically identified to ensure accessibility within 100-150 km from any part of India. Currently, only 3,900 km of high-speed corridors are operational, with this figure projected to rise to around 11,000 km by 2026-27.