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26 October 2017, 12:14 | Bernice Figueroa
Approximately 83,000 km of roads in the nation will be developed and expanded under the 7 lakh crore project
This includes Economic Corridors (9000 km), Inter Corridor and Feeder Route (6000 km), National Corridors Efficiency Improvement (5000 km), Border Roads and International Connectivity (2000 km), Coastal Roads and Port Connectivity (2000 km), Green field Expressways (800 km), National Highway Development (NHDP) works (10,000 km). According to rumours, this might be the biggest announcement by the central government leading to the assembly polls later this year.
As Bharatmala will require over Rs 5 lakh crore, the government has various fundraising plans under its sleeve. With the infrastructure push, the government has sought to counter allegations of failure to create jobs and also signal its recognition and intent of reviving the economy.
On Tuesday, finance secretary Ashok Lavasa had noted that some government agencies had more appetite for spending, something that economic affairs secretary SC Garg had also said while announcing the possibility of higher capital expenditure by public sector companies and had gone to name NHAI as one of the entities planning to step up asset creating spend this year.
The Rs 6.92 lakh crore highway projects, approved by the Union Cabinet, will generate 14.2 crore mandays of jobs and also include Bharatmala project, an umbrella programme for roads under which 34,800 km of highways will be constructed at a cost of Rs 5.35 lakh crore, the Government said.
Mint reported on 12 September that the government planned to fund large infrastructure projects by raising money in tranches of Rs10,000 crore by selling 10-year bonds at a coupon of 7.25-7.75%.
In addition to 34,800 km under Bharatmala, another 48,877 km of works under other current schemes will be implemented in parallel by the NHAI with an outlay of Rs 1.57 lakh crore.
A study under the proposed Bharatmala project by global consultancy firm AT Kearney had identified 44 economic corridors. This will be financed by providing Rs 97,000 crore from CRF and Rs 59,000 crore as gross budgetary support (GBS). The government has also sanctioned nearly Rs 11,000 crore towards the development of roads in states with left wing extremism.
The government also approved the construction of 2,000 km of roads, along the eastern and western borders of the country to boost border roads and worldwide connectivity.
The programme will focus on reducing the travel time for logistics and reducing costs. The government officials said better road network will transform India's road sector through the smart tag based tolling.
The government's new plan could significantly increase the average distance a truck covers daily in the country. "We have empowered the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to appraise, approve and bid out projects worth upto Rs 2,000 crore", he said.
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