India’s Highway Network To Expand By 30,600 Km Under Rs 22 Lakh Crore Plan

V Bhagya Subhashini

Jun 24, 2024, 02:30 PM | Updated 02:26 PM IST

New plan aims to significantly enhance India’s road network. (Unspalsh)
New plan aims to significantly enhance India’s road network. (Unspalsh)

In a major boost for infrastructure development, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has sought Cabinet approval for a Rs 22 lakh crore investment in a comprehensive highway development plan covering approximately 30,600 km by 2031-32.

This plan, recently submitted to the Ministry of Finance and shared with key ministries, aims to significantly enhance India’s road network.

The proposal includes the construction of 18,000 km of expressways and high-speed corridors, the decongestion of 4,000 km of national highways around cities, and the development of strategic and international roads.

Notably, around 35 per cent of this investment is expected to come from the private sector.

The master plan for highway development will be executed in two phases. During an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by Road Transport Secretary Anurag Jain, officials discussed the finalised roadmap, aiming to tender all projects under Phase-1 by 2028-29 and complete them by 2031-32. The Rs 22 lakh crore estimate pertains to the projects in the first phase.

The ministry has requested a 10 per cent annual increase in budgetary allocation for project implementation. In the interim budget, the government allocated Rs 278,000 crore to the ministry, marking a 2.7 per cent increase from the previous financial year.

The financial requirements for the second phase, which will develop an additional 28,400 km, will be determined later. The plan outlines that sanctioning and awarding of stretches under Phase-2 will be completed by 2033-34, with construction finishing by 2036-37.

The plan also identifies high-speed corridors to ensure accessibility within 100-150 km from any part of India.

The road transport ministry's assessment suggests that India will ultimately require approximately 50,000 kilometres of high-speed corridors to effectively address transportation needs.

Currently, only 3,900 kilometres of high-speed corridors are operational in the country, with projections estimating an increase to around 11,000 kilometres by 2026-27.

Nearly 73 per cent of freight was transported by road in 2021-22, with railways accounting for around 23 per cent. Additionally, for commodities transported less than 350 km, 82 per cent was moved by road, and for distances over 600 km, 62 per cent was transported by road, reports Times Of India.

Upon completion, the average travel speed of trucks on the national highway network is expected to increase to 85 kmph from the current 47 kmph. The average travel speed on highways in the United States exceeds 100 kmph, while in China, it stands at 90 kmph.

The government anticipates that increasing the average speed will help India achieve its target of reducing logistics costs to 9-10 per cent of GDP.

V Bhagya Subhashini is a staff writer at Swarajya. She tracks infrastructure developments.

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