With an aim to improve connectivity, especially along the economic corridors, border regions and far-flung areas, the central government, in 2017, launched an ambitious highway development scheme – the Bharatmala project (or Bharatmala Pariyojana).
Bharatmala project details
Bharatmala Pariyojana has been touted as the second-largest highways construction project in India after the National Highways Development Project (NHDP). The road network built under the centre’s flagship Bharatmala project, is likely to support quicker movement of cargo and boost international trade, among other things.
“Bharatmala will bring down logistics cost, impacting exports and investment,” road transport minister Nitin Gadkari said, after the union cabinet approved the project on October 25, 2017. Quicker movement is also likely to decrease the supply chain costs from the current average of 18% to 6%.
“The project focuses on optimising efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country, by bridging critical infrastructure gaps through effective interventions like development of economic corridors, inter-corridors and feeder routes, national corridor efficiency improvement, border and international connectivity roads, coastal and port connectivity roads and greenfield expressways,” the Road Transport Ministry said, in a statement.
Starting in Gujarat and Rajasthan and then going up to Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal before hitting Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Mizoram, prime minister Narendra Modi’s pet project has special focus on providing connectivity to India’s north-eastern states.
See also: All about the Purvanchal Expressway
Bharatmala Pariyojana development phases
Under the Bharatmala project, around 65,000 kms of national highways are to be constructed in two phases.
Bharatmala project Phase 1
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) approved the Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase 1 in October 2017. Under Phase 1, a total of 34,800 kms of roads will be developed.
Bharatmala roads under Phase 1:
- Economic corridors (9,000 kms)
- Inter-corridor and feeder routes (6,000 kms)
- Roads under the National Corridors Efficiency Program (5,000 kms)
- Border and international connectivity roads (2,000 kms)
- Coastal and port connectivity roads (2,000 kms)
- Expressways (800 kms)
- NHDP roads (10,000 kms).
Bharatmala project current status 2021
While the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) planned to build this entire road network by 2022, work on the Bharatmala project Phase 1 is likely to be delayed by four years, owing to land acquisition issues, cost overruns and the multiple waves of the Coronavirus pandemic. In October 2020, the government said that it had constructed 2,921 kms of highways under Phase 1.
According to rating agency ICRA, work on Phase 1 may be completed by FY 2026, if work contracts are awarded completely by FY 2023.
While the cost of developing Bharatmala Phase 1 was first estimated at Rs 5.35 lakh crores, it has now spiralled to 8.5 lakh crores, mainly due to delays in land acquisition.
See also: All about the Land Acquisition Act
Bharatmala project Phase 2
Planning for Phase 2 of the Bharatmala project has already started, with the NHAI identifying 5,000 kms of network to be covered under the second phase.
Job creation under Bharatmala project
The project is expected to generate nearly 22 million jobs and 100 million man days of jobs, as a result of the increased economic activity across India.
Funding for Bharatmala project
Being a central government road and highways project, the Bharatmala Pariyojana is funded through many routes, including budgetary allocation, private investment, debt funds, the toll-operator-transfer model, etc.
See also: All you need to know about Ganga Expressway
Agencies responsible for construction under Bharatmala
The National Highways Authority of India, the National Highway and Industrial Development Corporation and state public works departments, have been entrusted with the responsibility to complete the project.
What is Bharatmala project?
The Bharatmala Pariyojana is a highway development scheme launched by the central government, to improve the movement of freight and passengers across the country and, thereby, boost economic development.
Bharatmala project is under which ministry?
The Bharatmala project falls under the Road Transport Ministry.