Biggest-ever highway plan

The government is set to approve the biggest ever highway plan to develop and expand approximately 83,000 km of roads at an investment of Rs.6.9 lakh crore by 2022. The proposal on the Cabinet's agenda is aimed at pushing economic activity and generating at least 32 crore mandays across the country in the next five years.

The announcement will include the new 28,400 km Bharatmala highway programme connecting border areas, improving international, port and coastal connectivity besides improving highway corridors connecting key economic and commercial hubs, besides at least 800 km of expressways. Sources said the focus of the entire plan is to improve speed of traffic flow on key corridors by providing uniform four-lane roads between two identified points. Most of these corridors will be shorter and access-controlled for faster movement of cargo vehicles.

Due to poor road conditions, narrow width and congestion points, a truck in India covers on an average 250-300 km daily in comparison to 700-800 km in developed countries.

This will perhaps be the biggest government announcement before the upcoming assembly elections. According to the ministry's estimates, construction of 10,000 km of highways annually has the potential of generating four crore mandays and the mega highway development programme can be used to counter the allegation that the government has failed to create employment opportunities.

Considering there is less appetite for private investment, sources said, more than 70% of the works will be through government funding. About one-third of the investment will come from fuel cess, over one-fourth from market borrowing and the rest from budgetary support, private investment and auctioning of completed highways.

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