The Central Government has never shied away from dwelling on its focus on highway development in the country, but the word ‘highways’ was mentioned only twice by the Finance Minister Piyush Goyal in his maiden budget speech.
India is constructing 27 km of roads every day since 2017-18, which is way lower than the target of 45 km/day for the current year (2018-19).
But Goyal claimed, “India is the fastest highway developer in the world with 27 km of highways built each day.”
The word ‘infrastructure’ was spoken 10 times by Goyal during his hour-and-a-half-long speech.
“Infrastructure is the backbone of any nation’s development and quality of life. Whether it is highways or railways or airways or even digiways, we have gone beyond incremental growth to attain transformative achievements,” Goyal said in his speech.
In the year 2017-18, the length of highways completed by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the NHAI and the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) in 2017-18 was 9,829 km, or roughly 27 km per day.
Union Road Minister Nitin Gadkari had earlier said the daily day road construction target for the current financial year (2018-19) is 45 km.
Even while there is nearly a 30 per cent increase in the per-day-per-kilometre of road construction target for the fiscal, in terms of lane kilometers, the target remains 94 lane-km per day by the end of this year. A lane-km is defined as a kilometre-long segment of a road that is a single lane in width. For example, a 1-km stretch of a standard two-lane road represents two lane-kilometres).
The government’s flagship highway programme, Bharatmala, was not mentioned by the Finance Minister.
Bharatmala is the largest highways project after the National Highways Development Programme (NHDP), which saw the development of about 50,000 km, and aims at improving connectivity in border and other areas. In the first phase to be undertaken over three-five years, the project will cost Rs 5.5 trillion.