The government will develop 44 highway stretches totalling 27,000 km as “economic corridors“ for seamless movement of cargo, cut delays, deepen economic activities and create jobs. It will help in decongesting 30 top cities by building ring roads and logistics hubs along these corridors, likely to require an investment of Rs.6 lakh crore.
This will be the biggest highway expansion plan since the Golden Quadrilateral and the North South East West Corridor, totalling 13,000 km during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime. These stretches connect major hubs of economic activities such as manufacturing clusters and ports, and have been identified as “economic corridors“. The new plan is expected to be completed within six years. The government is exploring several funding options for the project, including using the road development cess, loans from agencies, auctioning of completed projects and also private investment.
Another 15,000 km has been identified to be developed as feeder routes to these economic corridors, which will be developed by the highways ministry . Sources said 40 inter-connecting corridors will also be developed to link the 44 economic corridors and the Golden Quadrilateral. This network will carry 80% of the country's freight.The government will also rebrand national highways as National Corridors, Economic Corridors and Feeder Roads, a move aimed at helping in navigation and identifying roads. The corridors have been identified using satellite imagery .
The NDA government has identified development of roads and highways as a priority sector and taken several steps to unclog the sector.
The work of expanding these stretches will be carried out under the `Bharat Mala' programme, a highway development programme that will link ports, logistic hubs, border areas for boosting cargo movement, raise exports and overall growth. The highways ministry is preparing a proposal to seek cabinet approval for the ambitious programme.
Both these packages are likely to require at least Rs.6 lakh crore investment, according to NHAI sources. All these identified stretches will be made into four to six lanes with facilities, including truck lay-by , parking lots and logistics parks.
NHAI officials said some of the identified corridors include Mumbai to Kolkata, Pune to Vijayawada, Jaipur to Indore, Tuticorin to Cochin and Bengaluru to Nellore. “Improved highway corridors are key to reducing travel time of cargo vehicles, and bring down logistics cost. As compared to China, where the logistics cost is 8%, in India, it is nearly 18%. Moreover, trucks in India cover around 350 km per day compared to 500 km in developed countries. A recent report by logics firm TCI had pegged the annual cost of delays of freight vehicles at check posts at $21.3 billion (Rs 1.45 lakh crore).