The Narendra Modi government will soon kick-off India’s most ambitious roads programme named Bharatmala. The total investment for this programme is estimated at a staggering Rs. 10 trillion. Never before has any government dedicated such an amount to roads construction.
In the future, all road projects such as economic corridors & coastal roads will be brought under this programme. Bharatmala will replace the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) which is expected to be completed this year, with only 10,000km of highway construction left under the scheme launched in 1998 by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The total road length to be developed as expressways under Bharatmala will be around 51,000 km. In the first phase 29,000 km will be developed with an expenditure of Rs. 5.5 trillion. The programme also plans construction of new ports to harness India’s 7,517 km coastline. At a massive cost of Rs. 93,000 crore, 142 cargo terminals at major ports will be constructed.
During this financial year, the Modi government will invest Rs. 3.96 trillion to improve transportation infrastructure which will include construction of roads, railways, waterways & civil aviation facilities. The current rate of highway construction is 22-23 km/day, which was once a paltry 8-10 km/day during UPA’s time. But the Modi government isn’t satisfied at the current rate of construction, it has set a goal of highway construction of 41 km/day.
The government had awarded 9,655 km of highways construction contracts till February out of a target of 25,000 km. It has also raised its construction target to 15,000 km as against 6,000 km constructed last year. Out of this 6,467 km was constructed till February.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that projects such as Sagarmala & Bharatmala will prepare a strong base for infrastructure development, enabling a person to travel across the country on a single road.
The focus of this government on world-class infrastructure is very high. Our road connectivity is poor to say the least with the North-East region being especially detached from the rest of the country. It is in the last two years that huge road projects have been completed & many more awarded in the region to reduce the region’s transportation alienation.
When India gained independence, the rail network in the country was about 50,000 km. In the 70-odd years of independence, the government added only about 14,000km of rail network. This shows how indifferent the Congress governments have been to infrastructure development. They simply lacked vision. Same is the situation with our civil aviation sector which was ridiculously ignored all these decades.
Just to give a brief idea on how far behind India is in this aspect, we compare India with the United States (2015 figures). These figures will show that India has a long way to go, & that projects like Bharatmala & Sagarmala of the Modi government are accurately oriented & crucially needed. Also, we must remember that airports, roads & railways, are imperative for logistical purposes & can essentially be the difference between a win or loss in a war.
- Road Coverage – India (33,20,410 km) USA (65,86,610 km)
- Railway Coverage – India (63,974 km) USA (2,24,792 km)
- Serviceable Airports – India (346) USA (13,513)
- Major Ports & Terminals – India (7) USA (24)