Funding tap open, enhanced outlay of Rs 1.18 lakh crore for highways sector

The Union Budget for 2021-22 announced a lavish outlay of Rs 1.18 lakh crore for the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, and several flagship economic corridors, including in the election-bound states of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Assam.

“I am…providing an enhanced outlay of Rs 1,18,101 lakh crore for the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, of which Rs 1,08,230 crore is for capital, the highest ever,” Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her Budget speech on Monday.

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Tamil Nadu will get 3,500 km of national highway works at an investment of Rs 1.03 lakh crore, including the Madurai-Kollam and Chittoor-Thatchur corridors. Construction will start next year.

675 km of highway works are planned in West Bengal at a cost of Rs 25,000 crore, including upgradation of the existing Kolkata-Siliguri road.

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In Kerala, 1,100 km of national highway works are planned at an investment of Rs 65,000 crore, including a 600 km section of the Mumbai-Kanyakumari corridor in the state.

National highway works of around Rs 19,000 crore are currently in progress in Assam. Further works of more than Rs 34,000 crore covering more than 1,300 km of national highways will be undertaken in the state in the coming three years, Sitharaman said.

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An allocation of Rs 91,823 crore was made to highways for 2020-21, which was revised to Rs 1.01 lakh crore.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said the Budget was historic.

“No other Budget in history has laid so much emphasis on infrastructure. It is known that with infrastructure works not only does the economy get a boost but there is definite job creation as well,” he said.

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Sitharaman said that some of the flagship corridors and other important projects would see considerable activity in 2021-22.

More than 13,000 km of roads at a cost of Rs 3.3 lakh crore has already been awarded under the Rs 5.35-lakh crore Bharatmala Pariyojana, of which 3,800 km have been constructed.

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“By March 2022, we would be awarding another 8,500 km and complete an additional 11,000 km of national highway corridors,” she said.

The flagship projects that are to be expedited include the Delhi-Mumbai expressway. For the Bengaluru-Chennai expressway, 278 km will be initiated in the current financial year, and construction will begin in 2021-22.

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Work on the Delhi-Dehradun Economic Corridor will be initiated in the current financial year, while work on the Kanpur-Lucknow expressway will be initiated in 2021-22.

A 277-km Chennai-Salem corridor will be awarded soon, and construction will start in 2021-22. In addition, a 464-km Raipur-Visakhapatnam project passing through Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and north Andhra Pradesh will be awarded in the current year, and construction will start in 2021-22.

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Construction of the Amritsar-Jamnagar and Delhi-Katra expressways will commence in 2021-22.

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