(GIST OF YOJANA) Bharatmala Pariyojana:
The Biggest Revolution in Indian Highways
Bharatmala Pariyojana: The Biggest Revolution in Indian
Mains Paper 3: Economy
Prelims level: Bharatmala
Mains level: Infrastructure, roads, ports, railways
- The first major policy push to widen the NHs was made in 1998
during Atal Bihari Vajpayee government by launching the National Highways
Development Programme (NHDP), which had two major components of 5,846
kilometers of Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) connecting the four metro cities of
Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and 7,142 kilometers’ network connecting
Srinagar to Kanyakumari and Silchar to Porbandar.
- These networks are known as North-South and East-West corridors.
- The second big revolutionary decision to upgrade NHs was taken in
October 2017 when the Central government approved the phase-I of Bharatmala
Pariyojana covering 24,800 kilometers with an estimated expenditure of Rs
3.85 lakh crore.
- The government has set March 2022 target for National Highways
Authority of India (NHAI) for completion of the programme.
- The massive highway development programme has many firsts to its
credit; starting from preparation of the plan to identifying the highway
stretches and the new approach of building roads on new alignment.
- The Road Transport and Highways Ministry has termed as “crow
- One of the main reasons behind the decision to go for a massive
revamp of country’s NH network was that the NHDP rolled out in 1998 had
reached a certain level of maturity. It was essential to redefine road
development and have a macro approach while planning expansion of the
national highways network.
- The government undertook a detailed study of the goods (cargo)
movement between the high-density corridors scientifically after identifying
- Since one of the main aims of the programme was to improve cargo
traffic flow, a considered strategy was formulated to develop new' Economic
- Improved logistics movement has a force multiplier effect on the
- The Origin-Destination study also considered the integration of
economic corridors with the ongoing projects under NHDP.
- This study brought out interesting facts of how different
stretches of some corridors have infrastructure asymmetry.
- Economic Corridors: The origin-destination study which was
commissioned with the aim of improving logistics efficiency identified 44
new Economic Corridors. Some of these are Mumbai-Agra, Mumbai-Kolkata,
Chennai-Madurai, Bilaspur-Delhi, Pune-Vijayawada, Indore-Jaipur and
Amritsar-Jamnagar. The Economic Corridors are expected to carry 25 percent
of freight in the coming years. As per the plan, these corridors along with
national corridors (GQ and North South and East West).
- Inter Corridor und Feeder Routes: The origin destination study
also identified a network of shorter existing inter corridor routes
connecting two existing corridors and feeder routes to the corridor network.
These roads are expected to carry around 20 percent of freight. The
effectiveness of the corridors routes can be improved by development of the
- Improvement in Efficiency of National Corridors: Currently, the
Nils including the GQ and North South and East West corridor carry nearly 35
per cent of India's freight. All these stretches will be declared National
Corridors. These stretches have shown high growth in traffic volumes by
virtue of being the lifeline of India’s highway network. The average traffic
in the six national corridors is more than 30,000 passenger car units (PCU).
Under the Bharatmala programme, all these stretches will be widened to 6-8
lanes. In the past few years, these National Corridors have also developed
choke points impacting logistics efficiency.
- Development of Border and International Connectivity Roads: Around
3,300 kilometers of border roads have been identified to be built and
widened along the international border for their strategic importance.
Around 2,000 kilometers of roads are required for connecting India’s major
highway corridor to international trade points to facilitate EXIM trade with
Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.
- Development of Coastal and Port Connectivity Roads: Under
Bharatmala programme, about 2,100 kilometers of coastal roads have been
identified to be built along the coast. These roads would boost both tourism
and industrial development of the coastal region. These will also improve
connectivity to ports to facilitate EXIM trade. A major focus will be to
improve linkage to state government owned and private ports.
- Development of Greenfield Expressways: Bharatmala programme also
envisages building expressways close to the National and Economic Corridors
where traffic has breached the 50,000 PCUs and there are multiple choke
points. About 1,900 km of these stretches have been identified for
development of greenfield expressways. One such mega project connecting
Delhi with Mumbai has started taking shape. Expressways have limited entry
and exit points and there is no traffic signal or toll plaza on the main
carriageway, which ensures seamless and faster traffic movement.
- Bharatmala Pariyojana once implemented will enable improvement in
efficiency of freight and passenger movement on NHs. The network, as
identified under the Bharatmala network, will cater to 80 per cent of the
inter-district freight movement in the country.
- Moreover, the network will connect 550 districts in the country
accounting for nearly 90 per cent of the nation’s GDR Moreover, standardized
wayside amenities on the corridors will come up, which will improve
convenience of passenger movement significantly.
- The development of economic corridors and the associated inter
corridor and feeder routes will enable improvement in average speeds of
vehicles by about 20-25 per cent. Initiatives of building access controlled
expressways with features of “closed tolling” system will further improve
the average speeds on highways.
- Improvement in average speed of the freight vehicles will, in
turn, have three major benefits.
- Improved vehicle utilization resulting in faster breakeven and
hence lower freight cost per tonne per kilometer.
- Improvement in fuel efficiency of the vehicles due to lower idling
lime, resulting in lower freight cost and faster and reliable freight
transit, leading to a reduction in average inventory carried in freight.
- The network once developed will enable a reduction of 5-6 per cent
in the overall supply chain costs in the economy, the government has
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