The Narendra Modi government will undertake new road infrastructure projects in four states – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and West Bengal – that will go to polls this year, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced, while presenting the Union Budget in Parliament on Monday.
The finance minister announced road projects worth Rs 25,000 crore in West Bengal that will go to polls in April-May this year. Further allocations included Rs 65,000 crore for road and highway projects in Kerala, and Rs 3,400 crore for Assam, where Assembly elections are likely to be held within three to four months. Sitharaman also announced 3,500 kms of a national highway project in poll-bound Tamil Nadu at an investment of Rs 1.03 lakh crore, according to Times Now.
Additionally, another 8,500 km of road projects, and about 11,000 km of National Highway corridors will be completed by March 2022 under the Bharat Mala Pariyojna project, Sitharaman said.
Western Dedicated Freight Corridor and Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor will also be commissioned by June 2022. The government will also propose various additional initiatives, Sitharaman said.
Last month, Union minister Nitin Gadkari had said his ministry aimed to take road building targets to 40 km a day by March, reported PTI. He added that the National Highways Authority of India had a target to build 60,000 km of highways in the next five years, including 2,500 km of express highways. These include 9,000 km of economic corridors and 2,000 km each of strategic border roads and coastal roads. Besides these, 100 tourist destinations and 45 towns would be connected through highways, Gadkari said.
Other infrastructure-related announcements
For the development of railways, the government will allocate a record sum of Rs 1,10,055 crore to the Indian Railways, out of which, Rs 1,07,100 is for capital expenditure. “High density rail networks and highly utilised rail routes to be provided with indigenously developed automatic train protection system which will eliminate train collision due to human error,” Sitharaman announced.
Besides, 100% electrification of rail broad gauge routes to be completed by December 2023, she said. “The Budget 2021 also proposes to create future-ready Railways system by 2030,” the finance minister added. “The proposal will substantially boost the ‘Make In India’ programme.”
Other transport and infrastructure related announcements include, a new scheme at a cost of Rs 18,000 crore for development of public bus services. This will facilitate deployment of innovative Public Private Partnership models enabling private players to finance, acquire, operate and maintain over 20,000 buses, Sitharaman said.
The government will further deploy MetroLite and Metro New Technologies to provide metro rail systems in tier two cities and peripheral areas of tier one cities. This will be economical, but will give commuters the “same experience, convenience and safety,” the finance minister said.