Transforming India’s Highways: Ministry Proposes Rs 22 Lakh Crore Plan

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has sought Cabinet approval for an ambitious Rs 22 lakh crore investment in a highway development plan that will span approximately 30,600 km by 2023–2022. This proposal, which has been submitted to the finance ministry and shared with key ministries, 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. About 35% of this investment is expected to come from the private sector.

The master plan for this highway development is divided into two phases. During an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by Road Transport Secretary Anurag Jain, officials confirmed that the roadmap aims to tender all projects under phase 1 by 2028–29 and complete them by 2031-32. The Rs 22 lakh crore estimate covers projects planned for this first phase. Additionally, the ministry has requested a 10% annual increase in budgetary allocation for project implementation. In the interim budget, the government had allocated Rs 2,78,000 crore to the ministry, a 2.7% increase from the previous year.

The financial requirements for the second phase, which will cover the development of 28,400 km, will be determined later. According to the plan, sanctioning and awarding of projects under phase 2 will be completed by 2033–34, with construction set to finish by 2036–37.

The ministry has planned the development of national highways and expressways based on an assessment of GSTN data, which includes details on commodities transported from point to point. This data revealed that nearly 73% of freight was transported by road in 2021–22, with railways accounting for about 23%. For commodities transported less than 350 km, 82% were moved by road, and for distances over 600 km, 62% were transported by road.

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. For comparison, the average travel speed on highways is over 100 kmph in the US and 90 kmph in China. The government believes that increasing the average speed will help reduce logistics costs to 9–10% of GDP.

High-speed corridors have been identified to ensure that such stretches are accessible within 100–150 km from any part of India. Currently, only 3,900 km of high-speed corridors are operational, but this figure is expected to rise to around 11,000 km by 2026–27.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *