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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has recently inaugurated the Rs 22,500 crore, 341 km long six-lane Purvanchal Expressway in eastern Uttar Pradesh. “The Prime Minister noted that for industrial development of Uttar Pradesh, excellent connectivity is necessary, every corner of UP needs to be connected. He said as expressways are getting ready in UP, the work of the industrial corridor has also started. Very soon new industries will start coming up around Purvanchal Expressway," Prime Minister's Office said in a statement. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari also said the pace of highways construction in the country had touched a record 37 km per day in financial year 2020-21. He said over the past seven years, length of national highways had gone up by 50% from 91,287 km (as of April 2014) to 1,37,625 km (as on March 20, 2021). "Cumulative cost of ongoing project works has increased by 54 per cent at the end of the financial year 2020-21, compared to the financial year 2019-20 (as on March 31)," the minister said. Total budgetary outlay increased by 5.5 times, from Rs 33,414 crore in the financial year 2015 to Rs 1,83,101 crore for the financial year 2022.
India has the second-largest road network in the world, spanning a total of 5.89 million kilometres. Highway construction in India increased at 17.00% CAGR between FY16-FY21. Despite pandemic and lockdown, India has constructed 13,298 km of highways in FY21. In FY21, 13,298 kms of highway was constructed across India. In June 2021, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways constructed 2,284 kms of national highways compared with 1,681 kms in June 2020. In October 2020, the foundation stone was laid for nine National Highway projects—with a total length of ~262 kms—worth >Rs 2752 crore (US$ 371.13 million) in Tripura. The Government of India has allocated Rs 111 lakh crore (US$ 1.4 trillion) under the National Infrastructure Pipeline for FY 2019-25. The roads sector is likely to account for 18% capital expenditure over FY 2019-25.
Some of the recent Government initiatives are as follows:
- The Indian government launched Gati Shakti-National Master Plan, which will help lead a holistic and integrated development of infrastructure generating immense employment opportunities in the country.
- In October 2021, the government issued a notice related to concessions under the Vehicle Scrapping Policy (effective from April 2022) to encourage vehicle owners towards discarding old vehicles which have higher fuel consumption costs.
- In October 2021, the government launched a conversion project for 15 major roads in the Agartala smart city, the project will convert these roads to weather-resilient ones, and further strengthen development of the region.
- In October 2021, the government announced rules to improve road safety, such as fixed driving hours for commercial truck drivers and a mandate to install sleep detection sensors in commercial vehicles.
- In FY22 (until October), the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways constructed national highways extending 4,450 kms compared with 4,956 kms in FY21 (until October).
- In October 2021, the government announced a plan to install charging stations every 40 to 60 kilometres on national highways to strengthen wayside amenities; in line with this, ~700 e-vehicle charging stations are expected to be installed by 2023, covering 35,000 to 40,000 kms of national highways.
- In September 2021, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways constructed national highways extending 3,824 kms compared with 3,335 kms in August 2021.
- To transform road infrastructure in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, the Indian government has planned to construct roads extending 313 kms for Rs.11,000 crore (US$ 1.48 billion).
- In September 2021, the Indian government announced road projects worth Rs 1 lakh crore (US$ 13.48 billion) to develop road infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir. The region has also witnessed growth in national highways, from 7 in 2014 to 11 in 2021.
- In September 2021, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways allocated Rs 7,270 crore (US$ 980.9 million) for road safety programmes in 14 states that constitute 85% of the total road fatalities in India.
- Under Phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojana, the Ministry has approved implementation of 34,800 km of national highways in 5 years with an outlay of Rs 5,35,000 crore (US$ 76.55 billion). Under this scheme, 22 greenfield projects (8,000 kms length) are being constructed; this is worth Rs 3.26 lakh crore (US$ 43.94 billion).
- The government also aims to construct 23 new national highways by 2025.
- The Minister for Road Transport & Highways and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Nitin Gadkari, is targeting to construct 40 kms per day in FY22.
- In August 2021, Union Minister of Road Transport Highways, Nitin Gadkari announced to launch 1,080-km (road construction) projects worth Rs 25,370 crore (US$ 3.4 billion) in Gujarat under the Bharatmala Pariyojana—the ambitious road and highways project that aims to build highways from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and then cover the entire string of Himalayan territories.
- In August 2021, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways extended certain relief measures provided earlier in view of the second COVID-19 wave. The following relief measures have been extended:
- Relaxation in Schedule H/G with effect from July 01, 2021, until September 30, 2021, to improve liquidity of funds available with contractors and concessionaire.
- Arrangement regarding direct payment to the approved sub-contractor through an escrow account can be continued until September 30, 2021, or completion of work by the sub-contractor, whichever is earlier.
- In August 2021, Union Minister of Road Transport Highways, Nitin Gadkari sanctioned Rs 100 crore (US$ 13 million) to restore roads affected by heavy rains in Konkan and Western Maharashtra. This includes Rs 52 crore (US$ 7.0 million) for temporary restoration and Rs 48 crore (US$ 6 million) for permanent restoration.
- In August 2021, the central government sanctioned >Rs. 600 crore (US$ 81 million), of the Central Road and Infrastructure Fund (CRIF), for construction of 42 roads and bridges in Uttarakhand.
- In July 2021, the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways allocated Rs. 165 crore (US$ 22 million) under Economic Importance and Inter State Connectivity Scheme (EIC&ISC) for FY22.
- In July 2021, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways granted 162 kms road highway (New NH-365BG), as part of the economic corridor under the Bharatmala Pariyojana, with an aim to connect Andhra Pradesh and Telangana via a robust road infrastructure that supports speed of 100kms/hour. The total project cost is Rs. 2,600 crore (US$ 350 million).
- In July 2021, Andhra Pradesh spent US$ 296.05 million to build 8,970 kms of roads.
- In April 2021, the NHAI has decided to deploy Network Survey Vehicle (NSV) to enhance quality of the national highways. Carrying out road condition survey using NSV on the national highways was made mandatory for certifying completion of the project and every six months thereafter.
- In March 2021, the Mizoram-Myanmar Road project, which was launched under SARDP-NE, completed 92% work and is scheduled to be completed by June 2021.
- Under the Union Budget 2021-22, the Government of India has allocated Rs 108,230 crore (US$ 14.85 billion) to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
- The NHAI awarded 1,330 km of highways in the first half of FY21, which was 1.6x of the total awards in FY20 and 3.5x of the FY19-levels. NHAI, the nodal authority for building highways across the country, has set a target of awarding 4,500km of projects in FY21. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is expected to award projects worth ~Rs 2.25 lakh crore (US$ 30.3 billion) with a total length of ~5,000 kms in FY22.
- In February 2021, The Minister for MSMEs and Road Transport & Highways Mr. Nitin Gadkari approved construction of the 158-kms ring road worth Rs 10,000 crore (US$ 1.37) in Telangana.
- In January 2021, the Government of India and New Development Bank (NDB) signed two loan agreements for US$ 646 million for upgrading the state highway network and district road network in Andhra Pradesh.
The Government, through a series of initiatives, is working on policies to attract significant investor interest. A total of 200,000 km of national highways is expected to be completed by 2022. In the next five years, National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) will be able to generate Rs. 1 lakh crore (US$ 14.30 billion) annually from toll and other sources.
(Conversion rate used for October 2021 is Rs. 1 = US$ 0.013)