The Union road ministry is set to move a cabinet note for the second phase of India’s ambitious Bharatamala project to build over 5,000 km of expressways and highways at the cost of almost ₹3 trillion.
The Union road ministry has already prepared the note, and approval is expected next month, the people cited above said. Approval for Phase-2 has been advanced to allow for its completion alongside that of Phase-1, which got delayed by five years due to covid-19 disruptions and land acquisition delays.
Though 5,000 km of roads are expected under the new phase, more projects could come into its fold. An earlier plan had envisaged six expressways and 17 access-controlled corridors of length of over 8,100 km as part of Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase II at a total capital cost of over ₹3.66 trillion.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) proposes to issue tenders for the construction of some sections of the roads under Phase-2 as early as the first half of FY24 so that a big chunk of these expressways and highways become operational in line with remaining projects under Phase-1 that is now scheduled to be completed by 2027, said the persons quoted above.
Bharatmala Phase-2 aims to provide better connectivity to various infrastructure projects, including multi-modal logistics parks (MMLPs) and under-construction expressways to enable seamless movement across major economic centres. The new phase would also take up the construction of highways that decongest existing roads, ring roads around major industrial centres and bypasses.
The prime component of this ambitious project would be the construction of six key expressways totalling 2,560 km. This will include 120 km long Kharagpur-Kolkata expressway that would also provide connectivity with an eastern dedicated freight corridor, 220 km Pune-Ahmednagar- Aurangabad expressway, 310 km Chennai-Tiruchirappalli expressway, 515 km Indore-Mumbai expressway that would also connect with under-construction Mumbai-Delhi expressway, 650 km Varanasi-Ranchi-Kolkata expressway and 745 km long Pune-Bengaluru expressway that would provide the longest expressway link via Delhi-Mumbai corridor.
Bharatmala aims to link several of the existing road infrastructure while providing better connectivity to various industrial corridors. Though the first phase of the project was conceived in 2015, land acquisition delays and late clearances, along with covid-19 disruptions, have pushed the projects back to 2027, escalating costs. With early clearance for phase-2, the learnings from the previous round is expected be used to maximize road works.