India’s 22 lakh Crore Plan To Expand Highway Network By 30,600 KMs

To boost infrastructure growth, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has requested the Cabinet to allow investment of Rs 22 lakh crore in a highway development plan of about 30,600 km from 2031 to 2032.

The plan, recently submitted to the Finance Ministry and shared with key ministries, aims to expand India’s road network greatly.

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

It is noteworthy that about 35 percent of this investment will come from the private sector.

The master plan for highway development will be implemented in two phases. In an inter-ministerial meeting, chaired by Road Transport Secretary Anurag Jain, officials discussed the final roadmap. The aim is to issue tenders for all projects under Phase 1 by 2028-29 and complete them by 2031-32. Phase-1 projects are estimated to cost Rs 22 lakh crore.

The ministry has sought a 10 percent increase in budgetary allocation per year for the implementation of the projects. The government gave the ministry Rs 278,000 crore in its first budget, up 2.7 percent from the previous fiscal.

Funding requirements will be determined later for the second phase, which will extend another 28,400 km. As per the plan, clearance and award of segments in Phase 2 will happen by 2033-34, and construction by 2036-37.

The plan also prescribes a high-speed corridor to ensure access from any part of India within 100-150 km.

The Ministry of Road Transport has estimated that about 50,000 km of high-speed corridors will eventually be needed to meet India’s transportation needs.

Currently, the country has only 3,900 km of high-speed corridors, which will increase to about 11,000 km by 2026-27.

In 2021-22, about 73 percent of the goods were carried by road, with railways accounting for about 23 percent. Of the goods transported over a distance of less than 350 km, 82 percent were carried by road, while of the goods transported over a distance of more than 600 km, 62 percent were carried by road, reports the Times of India.

When completed, the average speed of trucks on the national highway network will increase from 47 kmph to 85 kmph. The average travel speed on highways in China is 90 kmph, while in the US it is over 100 kmph.

The government estimates that increasing the average speed will help India achieve its target of reducing logistics costs by 9–10%.

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