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Govt spends $18 billion on building roads ahead of Lok Sabha elections

PM Modi spend 44% more than a year ago on building roads. The government is rushing to enact policies that will boost employment opportunities before 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

india Updated: Apr 03, 2018 19:57 IST
Bloomberg, Dhwani Pandya, Mumbai
Building roads,Roads and highways,Employment
The National Highways Authority of India on March 31 said it awarded road projects totaling Rs 1.22 trillion in the last financial year. Tendering and projects awarding activity picked after the government announced the Bharatmala programme.(AFP File Photo)

India invested a record Rs 1.16 trillion ($18 billion) in the financial year ending March, to develop highways and improve road connectivity across the nation, according to a statement from the ministry of road transport and highways.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration spent 44% more than a year ago on building roads. The government plans to construct 83,677 km (52,005 miles) of roads by 2022 to boost economic growth and employment, under its $106 billion Bharatmala infrastructure development plan.

The government is rushing to enact policies that will boost employment opportunities in Asia’s third-largest economy before elections next year. Modi swept to power in May 2014 with the biggest electoral mandate in three decades after promising to create 10 million jobs each year for the country’s burgeoning youth population.

“The renewed focus on road building will continue to improve connectivity thereby enhancing the overall efficiency in the economy,” said Shubhada M Rao, chief economist at Yes Bank Ltd. “Focus on road building will also help employment generation.”

The administration awarded a total of 17,055 km of orders in year ended March, around 7% more from a year ago, according to the statement. Construction of roads last fiscal increased to 9,829 km from 8,231 km a year earlier.

The breakneck pace of highway projects has resulted in swelling of order books of most road developers to an all-time high, IIFL Wealth Management analyst Alok Deora said. They “will ensure strong topline” and earnings growth in current and next financial years, Deora said. Road developers such as Dilip Buildcon Ltd., Ashoka Buildcon Ltd., Sadbhav Infrastructure Project Ltd. rallied on Monday.

National Highways Authority of India on March 31 said it awarded road projects totaling Rs 1.22 trillion in last financial year. Tendering and projects awarding activity picked after the government announced the ‘Bharatmala’ programme, NHAI said in a statement.

India constructed 26.9 km of roads daily in the year to March 31.

First Published: Apr 03, 2018 19:57 IST