National Highway growth in India seems to be picking up it’s real speed. The road transport and highways ministry is adding nearly 50,000 km of roads to the National Highways (NH) network in India between September 2015 and March 2016. About 599 new projects were sanctioned and about 12,903 km length of national highways were awarded for which the expenditure is estimated to be Rs 1,08,483 crore.
The length of National Highways is expected to grow from 92,850 kms in 2013-14 to 100,000 kms by the end of 2017. The Ministry has undertaken development of about 7,000 km of national highways under Bharatmala Pariyojana at an estimated cost of Rs 80,000 crore in consultation with state governments.
National Highway Growth in India – Steps taken by the Government
Union government took firm steps to streamline clearances, allowing the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to compensate developers for delays not because of faults from their side and introduced an exit policy that allows private players to sell off their projects after two years of project completion. The government plans to award Rs 28,000 crore worth of highways development projects in the current fiscal under the newly conceived hybrid annuity model amid renewed interest among private firms.
Green Belts on Highways
NHAI approved a pilot project submitted by National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur for undertaking scientific studies on designing greenbelts along national highways. A pilot project would be implemented on a 5 km stretch on NH-7 between Jam and Hinganghat in Nagpur. It is a scientific concept with three layers of trees and will be beyond minimum standards set by environmental laws and regulations.
Roads are the dominant mode of transportation in India today. They carry almost 90 percent of the country’s passenger traffic and 65 percent of its freight. The density of India’s highway network (at 0.66 km of highway per square kilometer of land) is similar to that of the United States (0.65) and much greater than China’s (0.16). The Narendra Modi government has set a target of two percent contribution by the roads and highways sector to the national GDP growth within the next two years.