Road to 2019: PM Narendra Modi plans big infrastructure push
With close to 200 road projects worth about Rs 1.5 lakh crore likely to be completed by mid-2019, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government plans to showcase highway development as one of its biggest achievements in the infrastructure sector ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections, three senior officials said.
Between now and early next year, the Union road transport and highways ministry plans to get Prime Minister Narendra Modi to inaugurate at least 50 big-ticket and strategically important highway projects,
one of the officials cited above said. “We will shortly send a list of 50 projects to the Prime Minister’s Office to get time,” the official added on condition of anonymity.
Such a large number of projects getting commissioned in a span of eight to 10 months will have a significant impact on the economy and help generate employment — likely to be key issues in the 2019 general elections. Gross domestic product (GDP) growth is estimated to have slowed to 6.6% in 2017-18 from 7.1% the previous year.
The road ministry, a second official said, has drawn up a list of 416 ongoing projects worth Rs 3.26 lakh crore that are being implemented by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and are in various stages of completion. The list, reviewed by HT, also names the parliamentary constituencies through which the highways will pass.
The idea, the official added,is to have a completed highway project in almost every constituency.
As per the list, Maharashtra has the highest number, 52, ongoing projects worth Rs 38,029 crore followed by 45 projects in Uttar Pradesh worth Rs 37,926 crore, 28 projects in Rajasthan worth Rs 21,292 crore, 27 projects in Gujarat worth Rs 24,98 crore and 26 projects in Madhya Pradesh worth Rs 16,245 crore. All states are currently governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which leads the NDA.
“Work on all these projects is in various stages of completion. We are targeting to complete close to 200 projects by March 2019. We are also pushing projects whose completion is due in say August or September 2019 to fast-track their completion ahead of schedule,” the second official cited above said.
“The initiatives that the government took in the last three-and-a-half years are now showing result with work on stalled projects getting fast tracked,” Manish Agarwal, partner and leader (infrastructure practice) at consulting firm PwC India.
In 2014, when the NDA government took charge, highway projects worth over ~1 lakh crore were languishing for either want of funds or failure to get various regulatory clearances and complete land acquisition.
“This (the large number of projects getting completed) will have a significant impact on both the competitiveness of logistics in India and urbanization. It will also give a fillip to the economy by hastening the construction cycle, and freeing up resources,” Agarwal added.
Like the previous NDA government in the 1999- 2004, the Narendra Modi administration has made road construction a top priority. The government has set an ambitious target of building almost 45 km of roads per day – up from 9km/day just four years ago – this fiscal year. Between 2014-15 and 2018-19, the overall budgetary allocation to the highways sector has increased from Rs 32,000 crore to Rs 71,000 crore.
In October, the government approved the Rs 6.92 lakh crore Bharatmala project,which includes development of highways running through economic corridors, border and coastal areas and expressways. The 24,800 km Bharatmala program has a completion deadline of 2022 and is expected to give a big push to the economy by generating jobs and increasing demand for everything from steel to cement.