The ministry of road transport and highways has proposed an investment of Rs 60,000 crore for the highways sector in the 2015-16 fiscal out of which around Rs 25,000 crore will come as budgetary support, according to sources.
A senior official told Mail Today that the remaining part of the investment will come from toll collections and market borrowing. The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which will undertake construction of highway projects, will issue tax-free bonds to investors as part of the market borrowing programme.
The official said that no new expressways are expected to be announced in the Union Budget.
Union finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced in his last Budget in July that NHAI would set aside Rs 500 crore to prepare project reports for initiating work on select expressways in parallel to development of industrial corridors.
The new government has inherited a problem-ridden highways sector, which at one point had as many as 190 stranded projects.
According to sources, there are still 26 major projects involving an investment of Rs 39,000 crore that remain stalled. Road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari is reported to have cleared another three such projects in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra on Tuesday.
A senior official said that the new government is focussing on getting the stranded projects back on track apart from going in for new projects. "This is a break from the past as the previous government was going ahead recklessly by awarding new projects even though several old ones were stranded as various clearances had not come through," the official added.
The target of increasing the speed of highway construction to 30 km a day will be achieved within 18 months against the 24 months estimated earlier. The official said that the Delhi-Jaipur highway would be completed in May as construction has been expedited after the National Democratic Alliance government came into power.
(Courtesy: Mail Today)