BharatMala Project and Aurangabad

Aurangabad set to see major infrastructure push in Bharatmala Project.  Mumbai-Nashik-Aurangabad-Nagpur-Kolkota, Aurangabad-Pune, Aurangabad-Nanded-Hyderabad roads in Phase-I of Economic corridor.

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Transport Minister Mr. Nitin Gadkari launched the BharatMala project which was given the nod by the Union Cabinet on October 25, 2017. After National Highways Development Project (NHDP), Bharatmala Pariyojana is the largest road development programme to be undertaken by the government of India. Phase-I along with other programmes involves, national highway development of around 83,000 km (including Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I is 24,800 km) by the financial year 2022.  Aurangabad set to see major infrastructure push in Bharatmala Project. Mumbai-Nashik-Aurangabad-Nagpur-Kolkota, Aurangabad-Pune, Aurangabad-Nanded-Hyderabad roads in Phase-I of Economic corridor.

Bharatmala Project is a new umbrella program for the highways sector that focuses on optimizing efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country by development of Economic Corridors, Inter Corridors and Feeder Routes, National Corridor Efficiency Improvement, Border and International connectivity roads, Coastal and Port connectivity roads and Green-field expressways. Estimated outlay for Phase I is Rs 5,35,000 crores spread over 5 years. Work on the first set of projects under Bharatmala will begin before the end of 2018.

Some say thats its just a rehash of National Highway Development Programme and the target of construction mentioned in the programme seems highly ambitious. NHAI since the year 2000 had achieved a progress of 26,255 km as on March 31, 2017, after 17 years. Given this track record, completing 83,000 km by FY2022 looks an uphill task. Also, the success of the programme largely depends on the pace of land acquisition along with other requisite approvals.

Whatever may be the case, GoI plans to make big investment in the highway sector to increase the speed of vehicles and decrease supply chain costs from the current average 18 per cent to six per cent.

Aurangabad is likely to benefit big time from the BharatMala & other NHAI projects announced on 25th. Mumbai-Aurangabad-Nagpur-Kolkata Economic corridor (highway) is the main east – west connectivity programme which aims to increase the economic activity along the route. With this announcement we hope that a dedicated freight corridor and high speed railway will also get constructed in the future so as to make it a truly multi modal transport corridor.

Shendra-Bidkin-Waluj new highway was announced previously under Bharatmala but doesn’t find mention in the list made public. The DMIC should pursue the matter with NHAI regional and central office and get the same sanctioned at the earliest.

Aurangabad-Nanded-Hyderabad and Aurangabad-Pune Economic corridor are other routes/corridors planned with specific mention of Aurangabad in them. With DMIC giving impetus to industries, Aurangabad is likely to be at the center of major economic activity if things go according to plan.

NHAI is concentrating on Solapur – Aurangabad – Dhule National Highway. It includes a new bypass for the city abutting the Satara hills. It is likely to reduce traffic and congestion within the city and lower accidents and pollution. However we feel that NHAI should have built a ring road for the city instead of just the bypass. Also it’s not clear whether the budget for Aurangabad – Jalgaon highway (extended to Indore) and Aurangabad – Paithan highway has been sanctioned in the recent announcements. The above highways along with the declared ones and those under construction will truly make Aurangabad a logistics and transport hub of the region and make connectivity with north, south, east and western India not only easy but also economical with several optional routes available on the table.

City roads such as Beedbypass and Jalna roads are also in waiting due to lack of budgetary support. The regional office of NHAI should clarify the situation whether funds for the same were sanctioned in recent announcements.

The proposed Nagpur – Aurangabad – Mumbai Expressway will run parallel to the proposed Mumbai – Kolkata economic corridor. Hope both are kept separate (like Mumbai – Pune expressway and NH 4) and not merged together, so as to make available alternative routes for communication and transport to the industry.

We also hope that the amount of toll and number of toll plazas will be kept at the minimum for the benefit of the common man and to facilitate economic activity.

The government claims that the ambitious highway development plan has the potential to add 3% to the nation’s gross domestic product ( GDP) and provide 10 million jobs. The construction industry, including cement and equipment companies, will grow 100% to meet the demands for the Bharatmala scheme, projects. We pray and hope that it brings prosperity not only to India but also to a developing city like Aurangabad.

 

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