New Delhi: Promising that India’s biggest- ever Rs 7-lakh crore umbrella highway programme, including the ambitious Bharatmala, will be “transparent and corruption free”, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari today said most of these will be rolled out by December 2018.

Terming the massive infrastructure push as a step closer to achieving the target of Rs 25 lakh crore worth of work in the highways and shipping space in five years, creating 1 crore jobs and contributing 2-3 percent to GDP, Gadkari claimed that this will change the very face of India.

“We will roll out most of the Rs 7 lakh crore projects announced by the government yesterday, before December 2018.

The programme is the biggest infrastructure programme, including Bharatmala, that will see India having 50 corridors including the existing six,” the road transport, shipping, highways and water resources minister said while addressing the media here.

India will have “world-class roads on par with the US and Germany” and special emphasis has been accorded to providing quality roads on borders adjoining China and Pakistan, besides far-flung tribal areas.

The government yesterday approved a mega plan to build 83,677 km of highways by March 2022 at a cost of about Rs 7 lakh crore, which includes the ambitious Bharatmala project.

He said the detailed project reports (DPRs) for about 25,000 km of highway projects are almost ready and the Rs 7 lakh crore programme would create 10 crore mandays, in addition to 22 million permanent jobs.

“The entire programme will be transparent, corruption- free with full emphasis on quality. Each and every work will be through electronic tenders and the quality of highways would be such that they would see no potholes for the next 100 years,” Gadkari said.

The project, he added, was aimed at overhauling India’s infrastructure matching Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s New India vision.

About the funding of the Rs 5.35 lakh crore Bharatmala, he said it has been fully tied up as Rs 2.37 lakh crore would flow from the central road fund, Rs 2.05 lakh crore as market borrowing, Rs 34,000 crore from monetisation of highway projects and Rs 60,000 crore through budgetary allocation.

He stressed that funding is not a problem for the entire project as funds to the tune of Rs 4-5 lakh crore can be raised from the capital market and the finance ministry has been approached for enhanced support.

In addition, the minister spoke of exploring pension and other investment funds while money can be raised through bonds and NHAI, a flagship organisation of the ministry that has a rating of AAA+.

Asked about land acquisition, Gadkari admitted that though it is “tough and complicated”, it is not a problem for the ministry as farmers and others were making a beeline to offer their land for the highway projects after enhanced compensation.

Expressing confidence in timely completion of projects in which Rs 1.25 lakh crore was expected from private players, the minister said the award of projects has risen manifold and in the current fiscal, the target is to award 20,000 km of highways.

2012-13 saw award of 1,916 km, 2013-14 3,620 km, 2014-15 7,972 km while in 2015-16, the award quantum grew to 10,098.

Last fiscal, it touched 15,948 km.

According to the minister, under the first phase of Bharatmala, a total of 550 districts in the country will be linked with National Highways.

Apart from building corridors at a cost of Rs 1.2 lakh crore, lane expansion will be done at 34 places, apart from constructing logistics parks at 35 locations. In addition, way side amenities will be created at 180 sites in two years with each having much job potential, he said.

The minister also announced that the Rs 44,000 crore Vadodara-Mumbai project will start soon, besides completion of Eastern Peripheral Expressway to decongest Delhi within a month.

The 44 new economic corridors include Mumbai-Kolkata, Mumbai-Kanyakumari, Amritsar-Jamnagar, Kandla-Sagar, Agra- Mumbai, Pune-Vijaywada, Raipur-Dhanbad, Ludhiana-Ajmer, Surat-Nagpur, Hyderabad-Panaji, Jaipur-Indore, Solapur-Nagpur, Sagar-Varanasi, Kharagpur-Siliguri, Raipur-Vishakhapatnam, Delhi-Lucknow, Chennai-Kurnool and Indore-Nagpur.

Other corridors to be built are Chennai-Madurai, Mangalore-Raichur, Tuticorin-Cochin, Solapur-Bellary, Hyderabad-Auranagabad, Delhi-Kanpur, Sagar-Lucknow and Sambalpur-Ranchi.

There are 65 inter-corridor and feeder roads coming up, besides 115 feeder roads.

Bharatmala works have been proposed for completion in five years by 2021-22 through NHAI, NHIDCL, MoRTH and state PWDs and substantial delegation of powers has been provided to NHAI, NHIDCL and the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) to facilitate speedy implementation.

Terming Bharatmala as “connecting India like never before”, the PMO has said the Rs 5.35 lakh km project will include 9,000 km of economic corridors to unlock full economic potential, 6,000 km of inter-corridor and feeder routes, 5,000 km of national corridors, 2,000 km of border road connectivity, 800 km of expressways and 10,000 km of balance NHDP projects.

PTI