Minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said highway projects worth Rs 8 lakh crore under the Bharatmala Pariyojana (BMP) would be rolled out before the end of 2018. BMP is a new umbrella programme for the highways sector that focuses on optimising efficiency of road traffic movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps. Speaking to the media a day after the Cabinet approved the first phase of the ambitious programme, worth Rs 5.35 lakh crore, for building 34,800 km of highways including 10,000 km of balance work under the National Highways Development Programme (NHDP), Gadkari said that the detailed project reports (DPRs) for about 25,000 km of highway projects are almost ready.
The first phase of the BMP is to be implemented over a period of five years ending 20121-22. In the subsequent phase, another 25,000 km would be added to the BMP scheme. “The entire programme will be transparent, corruption-free with full emphasis on quality. Each and every work will be through electronic tenders and the quality of highways would be such that they would see no potholes for the next 100 years,” Gadkari said. Stressing that funding would not be a problem for implementing the entire project, Gadkari said Rs 2.37 lakh crore would flow from the central road fund, Rs 2.05 lakh crore as market borrowing, Rs 34,000 crore from monetisation of highway projects and Rs 60,000 crore through budgetary allocation. He also said that funds to the tune of Rs 4-5 lakh crore can be raised from the capital market.
“The BMP has been designed to bridge the gaps in the existing highways infrastructure so as to make the movement of man and material more efficient. Special attention has been paid to fulfill the connectivity needs of backward and tribal areas, areas of economic activity, places of religious and tourist interest, border areas, coastal areas and trade routes with neighbouring countries under the programme,” he said. The minister also said that Bharatmala would help to connect 550 districts in the country through NH linkages, from around 300 now. With this, 70 – 80% of freight would move along national highways as against 40% at present. The programme would also have a positive impact on the logistic performance index of the country.