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Government Accelerates Road Construction with Vision ’47: Targets 50,000km of Expressways

Government Accelerates Road Construction with Vision ’47: Targets 50,000km of Expressways

Written by Sanjay Kumar

In a significant policy shift, the Indian government is set to expedite its road construction efforts, aligning with the ambitious Vision 2047. Anurag Jain, the Secretary of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), unveiled this strategy, emphasizing the construction of an extensive network of access-controlled highways and expressways spanning approximately 50,000km.

The move marks the premature withdrawal of the Bharatmala highway development program, conceived six years ago. Mint had previously reported on this impending shift in October, outlining the government’s plan to transition from Bharatmala to a more expansive vision for the nation’s road infrastructure.

Jain highlighted the significance of expressway development for the future of infrastructure, citing benefits such as faster travel, reduced fuel consumption, and lowered logistics costs. The Vision ’47 plan aims to provide commuters access to these advanced expressways within 100-125 km from any point in the country.

Originally finalized in 2017, the Bharatmala Pariyojana comprised two phases. The first focused on constructing 34,800km of highways connecting existing infrastructure and industrial corridors. The anticipated approval for phase 2, involving over 5,000km of access-controlled highways with a total investment of ₹3 trillion, was expected in 2023.

It is now anticipated that all pending Bharatmala projects will be withdrawn, and a new cabinet note will be proposed for the Vision 2047 plan. This comprehensive plan will identify new road alignments and complete detailed project reports (DPRs) for greenfield projects, incorporating elements from the Bharatmala program.

Jain reported that under Bharatmala Phase I, contracts for 27,384km of roads have been awarded. The remaining 7,500km will align with the Vision 2047 plan, alongside proposed construction under Bharatmala Phase 2.

Highlighting the growth of high-speed corridors, Jain noted an increase from 353km in 2014 to 3,913km at present. Responding to concerns about the pace of highway construction, Jain stated that over 6,217km of roads have been completed by December 2023, surpassing the achievements of the previous year. The upcoming period, when election code of conduct is in force, will be utilized to finalize DPRs for various highway projects to substantially enhance the award pipeline.

Addressing the standardization of amenities along highways, Jain mentioned that new guidelines are being finalized to improve infrastructure along developed highways. Additionally, more than 400 wayside amenities are proposed to be awarded by the end of the current fiscal year.

The implementation of satellite-based tolling on 10-15 stretches is planned by March this year, with further expansion based on the experience gained from these pilot projects. The toll revenue from national highways reached ₹18,450 crore till December, against the FY24 target of ₹24,977 crore.

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