With over 1,26,000 kms of length, the National Highways in India serve as the lifeline of Indian economy. Though they comprise only about 2 per cent of the total road network in the country, the NHs carry almost 70 per cent of the country’s passenger trach and more than 60 per cent of its freight.

The National Highway Development Program (NHDP), which started with the Golden Quadrilateral in 1998, followed by the North-South and East-West Corridors in the year 2000, has been the mainstay of the Indian Highway success story over the past decade and a half. The NHDP progressed through a total of eight phases during, 1998 to 2017, when the Government decided to come up with another major ambitious umbrella Road Development Programme known as the Bharatmala Pariyojana. Phase-l of the Bharatmala Pariyojana was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) in its meeting held on 24th October 2017. It focuses on optimizing efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country by bridging critical infrastructure gaps. A total of 24,800 kms of new highway stretches have been identified in Phase-I, that is up to 2021-22. In addition, 10,000 kms of balance road works under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP), are planned to be taken up during this period, thus adding a length of 34,800 kms of National Highways to the existing network. The total envisaged investment for 34,800 kms of National Highways (24,800 kms under Bharatmala Phase – 1 and 10,000 kms of balance NHDP) is Rs 53,500 crores. In addition, 48,877 kms of roads under other existing schemes (e.g. NH(O), SARDP-NE, EAP and LWE) at an estimated cost of Rs. 1,57,324 crore are also proposed to be completed. The overall outlay for Bharatmala and all existing schemes, put together, has been approved at an estimated cost of Rs. 6,92,324 crore over a period of 5 years.

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The Road Development Programme of MoRTH, as mentioned above, is expected to significantly boost investment in the sector and create large scale employment opportunities across the entire value chain of highway construction. The increase in investment in the sector is expected to spur tremendous employment opportunities in terms of direct employment for skilled manpower in design and supervision, ranging from civil engineers, structural engineers to design consultants, quality control and lab personnel as well as construction manpower which includes mechanics, equipment operators, fabrication workers, lab technicians, surveyors and also semi-skilled construction workers. The increased emphasis on use of technology such as LiDAR (Light Detection and Range) in preparation of DPRs for more accurate project designing has also led to a spurt in demand for manpower trained in remote sensing applications. In effect, approximately 14.2 crore man-days of jobs are expected to be created during the above period of National Highway construction.

In the past, there has been no systematic effort to estimate the number of persons engaged in the road sector and job potential that this sector has to offer. Hence, the Ministry has now commissioned a study to assess the job potential arising out of investments in the National Highways sector and skill development needs in the road construction sector. The findings and recommendations of the study would help the Ministry to further design a strategic framework and action plan for implementation of strategies for skill development and up-gradation of human resource in the road construction and transportation sector

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