Ambitious Bharatmala road project to hit ground soon

 NEW DELHI, April 30 – An umbrella programme for roads – Bharatmala – will hit the ground soon ending all existing highway projects, including the flagship NHDP, in six months, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said today.

The ambitious highways development project subsuming all road projects in the first phase will see the construction of 20,000 km of highways. “National Highways Development Project (NHDP) and all existing schemes will be finished in the coming six months. We will launch Bharatmala very soon,” Gadkari told PTI in an interview.

Detailed project reports (DPRs) are in the process of preparation and the first phase of the Bharatmala project will see construction of 20,000 km of highways, he said.

Bharatmala is a mega plan of the government and the second-largest highways project after the NHDP that saw development of about 50,000 km of roads. NHDP, being implemented in various phases was initiated by former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and includes Golden Quadrilateral connecting four metropolises besides North-South Corridor connecting Srinagar to Kanyakumari and East-West Corridor joining Porbandar to Silchar.

About 10,000 km of projects under NHDP are yet to be completed. “We will undertake massive road construction under the Bharatmala and lay a network of roads in border areas. We will connect all district headquarters with roads,” Gadkari said. Special emphasis will be given on providing connectivity to far-flung rural areas including the tribal and backward areas, he added.

The Prime Minister’s Office, earlier this month, after going through a presentation of the Bharatmala project has asked for the Public Investment Board (PIB) clearance to the first phase of the project, a government official said. The total investment envisaged under Bharatmala was pegged at Rs 10 lakh crore, he added.

The first phase will see construction of about 20,000 km of highways network that includes economic corridor schemes, coastal and other roads.

After viewing the presentation by the Road Transport and Highways Ministry, the PMO was of the view that a note should be floated for PIB approval, the official said.

PIB, chaired by the expenditure secretary, comprises secretaries of economic affairs, the Niti Aayog, statistics and programme implementation, environment and forests as members, besides the secretary of the administrative ministry concerned. – PTI

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