Transport infrastructure including highways, railway, rural roads and shipping got a big boost in the union budget 2017 with finance minister Arun Jaitley announcing a total outlay of Rs 2.41 lakh crore.
A bulk of this allocation – 54% or Rs 1.31 lakh crore -- will go towards modernising rail infrastructure. The highways sector will get Rs 64,000 crore, which constitutes 26% of the allocation. Rural roads, operation and maintenance of selected airports in Tier-II cities will also get a boost.
“The magnitude of investment will spur a huge amount of economic activity and create more jobs,” finance minister Arun Jaitley said in his budget speech.
- Boost to transport infrastructure as it gets an outlay of Rs 2.41 lakh crore
- Highways sector sees a marginal 10% increase in allocation over last fiscal
The overall budget of the highways ministry saw a marginal increase of 10% -- from Rs 57,676 crore in 2016-17 to Rs 64,000 crore in 2017-18.
Jaitley said that the highways sector will get a boost with the government rolling out Bharat Mala, the ambitious coastal connectivity project that envisages developing 6,000 km roads along coastal and border areas.
Experts said the increase, though marginal, is timely considering the government’s ambitious target of building 40 km of highway per day in 2017-18 - – up from 9km/day just three years ago – in this fiscal.
The Modi government, like the previous NDA government in the 1990s under Atal Behari Vajpayee, has given top priority to the sector that had hit a rough patch since 2007.
Between 2014-15 and 2016-17, the overall allocation to the highways sector has increased by 73 % -- from Rs 1.3 lakh crore to Rs 2.25 lakh crore.
Rural road construction also got a big push, with Jaitley announcing an allocation of Rs 19,000 crore in 2017-18 for the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. Together with the contribution from states, Rs 27,000 crore will be spent on building rural roads.
Jaitley said that 133 kilometres of rural roads were built per day in 2016-17, up from 73 km/day during the UPA regime between 2011-2014. Under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, the government wants to connect the remaining 65,000 rural habitations by constructing 2.23 lakh km of roads.