Indian Union Budget 2021-22: All roads to the polls, so it seems. Ahead of assembly elections in crucial states of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam, FM Nirmala Sitharaman has sharpened focus on some of the key road projects there. The Budget proposes to invest as much as Rs 1.03 lakh crore to build a 3,500-km national highway in Tamil Nadu as part of a move to boost road infrastructure along the economic corridors.
This will include the Madurai-Kollam corridor and the Chittoor-Thatchur corridor. Construction will start next fiscal. Similarly, Rs 65,000 crore will be spent in constructing 1,100 km of national highways in Kerala. This will include a 600-km section of Mumbai-Kanyakumari corridor in Kerala. Highway works over 675 km in West Bengal will be undertaken at a cost of Rs 25,000 crore, which will include upgrade of the existing road from Kolkata to Siliguri.
Assam will witness the construction of national highways covering 1,300 km at an estimated investment of Rs 34,000
crore. This will be on top of the Rs 19,000- crore investment in projects that are under construction in the state. Sitharaman said roads covering over 13,000 km, involving investments of Rs 3.3 lakh crore, have already been awarded under the Rs 5.35- lakh-crore Bharatmala Pariyojana project. Of this, 3,800 km have been constructed. “By March 2022, we would be awarding
another 8,500 km and complete an additional 11,000 km of NH corridors,” she said, before announcing the projects specific to poll-bound states.
TheBJP is currently in power in Assam, and is eyeing power in West Bengal and enhanced vote share in Kerala and Tamil
Nadu. Elections are expected to be held in April-May. Some government officials, however, ruled out any motive behind the
announcements, saying they are part of the broader focus on creating infrastructure to stir growth and create jobs. The Budget enhanced allocation for the ministry of road transport and highways to Rs 1,18,101 crore, against Rs 101,823 crore for this fiscal.Of the proposed outlay for FY22, Rs 1,08,230 crore is for capital spending.
With the economy battered, a task force on the NIP had in April 2020 created a roadmap for capital investments of Rs 111lakh crore in infrastructure up to FY25, pledging 71% of it for energy, roads,urban development and railways.