In a significant move to enhance the country’s transportation infrastructure, the road transport ministry has unveiled an ambitious programme aimed at constructing and widening approximately 41,000 kilometres of national highways.
This extensive initiative includes the development of 15,000 kilometres of high-speed, access-controlled corridors by the fiscal year 2031-32, requiring a substantial investment of approximately Rs 19.5 lakh crore.
According to the proposed master plan for highway development, the initial phase projects are set to be tendered by 2028-29, with the construction scheduled for completion by 2031-32.
The completion of these projects is anticipated to nearly double the average travel speed on the national highway (NH) network, increasing it from the current 47 kmph to an impressive 85 kmph.
The average travel speed on highways in the United States exceeds 100 kmph, while in China, it stands at 90 kmph.
The government envisions that this significant improvement in average travel speed will play a pivotal role in achieving the target of reducing logistics costs to 9-10 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP), a substantial decrease from the current 18 per cent of GDP.
As per this Times Of India report, the proposed high-speed corridors have already been identified strategically, ensuring accessibility within 100-150 kilometres from any part of India. Additionally, these corridors aim to alleviate congestion on national highways around cities and urban areas.
The road transport ministry’s assessment suggests that India will ultimately require approximately 50,000 kilometres of high-speed corridors to effectively address transportation needs.
Currently, only 3,900 kilometres of high-speed corridors are operational in the country, with projections estimating an increase to around 11,000 kilometres by 2026-27.
To bridge this substantial gap, the ministry has identified 36,500 kilometres of new high-speed corridors, with a focus on building four and six-lane highways over the next two decades. This strategic move is expected to not only address existing congestion issues but also contribute significantly to the long-term development and efficiency of India’s transportation network.
Strategic Initiatives To Propel Growth Of National Highway Network
The Ministry of Road Transport has spearheaded key strategies to facilitate the impressive growth and achievements witnessed by the National Highway (NH) network in the country. One pivotal initiative involves fostering a conducive contractor ecosystem through the rationalisation of projects and contract documents.
Under the meticulous planning framework, all project-related activities, including the preparation of detailed project reports, adhere to the guidelines set forth by the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan (NMP) portal. Project awards are meticulously executed after thorough preparation, ensuring adequate readiness in terms of land acquisition and pre-construction activities.
Efforts to streamline the land acquisition process, coupled with the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and a continuous focus on upgrading standards and specifications, stand out as additional measures undertaken to propel growth in the road sector. The ministry has also explored innovative financing models to raise resources, providing much-needed flexibility and support for the development of national highways.
The relaxation of contract provisions under the “Atmanirbhar Bharat” initiative has played a crucial role in improving liquidity, fostering an environment conducive to funding availability for crucial projects.
Furthermore, the revamped dispute resolution mechanism has been implemented to ensure efficient and timely resolution of issues, contributing to the overall growth and success of the NH network.