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Centre plans mega highways constructions to replace Bharatmala Pariyojana

Launched in October 2017, Bharatmala Pariyojana aimed to develop 74,942 kms of national highways with an investment of Rs 5.35 trillion

Road, highways, projects, construction, infrastructure

BS Web Team New Delhi

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India is expected to soon unveil a "mega highways construction programme" aligned with the vision set forth by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA government for 2047, according to a report by The Economic Times (ET). This initiative, part of India's Vision 2047, is designed to replace the existing Bharatmala Pariyojana, and will significantly improve connectivity across the country.

The mega highways construction programme will outline specific eligibility criteria for roads to be identified as national priorities, accompanied by modifications to the model concession agreement (MCA) to streamline infrastructure development and minimise contract disputes and litigation.

Moreover, all future highway projects will be awarded under a new scheme, which is set to move away from the current approach to construction projects. This will facilitate smoother project implementation and ensure the delivery of high-quality roads.

Proposed modifications to the MCA:

- Disputes involving a claim value up to Rs 50 lakh will not undergo arbitration.

- Cases involving higher claim amounts will not warrant pre-reference or pendent elite interest for either the government or the concessionaire.

- Insurance during the concession period, compensating for project failure, will include government arms as joint beneficiaries.

While Bharatmala has driven substantial progress in national highway construction, concerns have been raised regarding escalating expenditure. Official data, as reported by ET, indicates that India has been constructing over 10,000 kilometres of national highways annually since the launch of Bharatmala in October 2017. The scheme aimed to develop 74,942 kilometres of national highways, with 34,800 kilometres approved for the first phase until September 2022, involving an investment of Rs 5.35 trillion. Contracts for 27,384 kilometres have been awarded, and the constructed length stands at 15,045 kilometres.

Build operate transfer (BOT) model

Moving forward, it is anticipated that any remaining national highway contracts awarded this financial year will follow the "build operate transfer" (BOT) model, requiring minimal financial outlay from the exchequer. About 11 stretches, valued at Rs 22,000 crore, have been put up for bids as the Centre brings momentum to BOT projects. These BOT projects are expected to contribute significantly to achieving the goal of awarding 10,000 kilometres of national highways in the current fiscal year.

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First Published: Jan 08 2024 | 11:46 AM IST

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