(GIST OF YOJANA) Bharatmala Pariyojana: The Biggest Revolution in Indian Highways [FEBRUARY-2019]

(GIST OF YOJANA) Bharatmala Pariyojana: The Biggest Revolution in Indian Highways


Bharatmala Pariyojana: The Biggest Revolution in Indian Highways

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 flight” alignments.
  •  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 Process

  •  The government undertook a detailed study of the goods (cargo) movement between the high-density corridors scientifically after identifying the Origin-Destination.
  •  Since one of the main aims of the programme was to improve cargo traffic flow, a considered strategy was formulated to develop new' Economic Corridors.
  •  Improved logistics movement has a force multiplier effect on the economy.
  •  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.

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  •  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 feeder routes.
  •  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 estimated.


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