How has the NDA government performed with respect to expansion of national highways (NH)?

The government’s tenure from 2014 to 2024 witnessed expansion in infrastructure landscape, particularly the NH sector. Official data reveals addition of over 50,000 kms to the network in this period. Since 2014, there has been an increase in road and highway budget allocation. From an initial construction rate of 12.1 kms per day in 2014-15, the nation has experienced an increase, with 28.6 kms of highways being constructed daily by FY22.

The past decade has witnessed culmination of several long-pending projects, for instance, the Delhi- Meerut Expressway, which was originally announced in 2006 has been completed recently helping reduce travel time between Delhi and Meerut. Similarly, the Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways have not only eased vehicular movement but have also paved the way for enhanced trade and commerce in the NCR.


What has been the game changer in the last 10 years?

The perception of highways has undergone a profound shift. No longer mere transportation routes, highways now stand as vital contributors to economic prosperity. Bharatmala Pariyojana exemplifies this paradigm shift. By adopting a corridor-based approach, it systematically develops economic corridors, inter-corridor links, feeder routes, and expressways. The result is enhanced regional connectivity and a boost to economic activity by promoting trade, tourism, and overall socio-economic development.

The Hybrid Annuity Model (HAM) and Toll-Operate-Transfer (TOT) have been game-changers. PM Gati Shakti initiative is a recent gamechanger which focuses on creating multi-modal connectivity and seamless integration amongst different modes of transport i.e. road, rail, water and air.


Any unfinished agenda?

First amongst them is wider implementation of green highways. This includes adopting green construction practices, mitigating the environmental impact of highway projects, and incorporating measures to address climate change and promote sustainable development.

Another is advanced tolling mechanisms, say GPS based tolling in India that allow seamless and distance based user fee charging. Currently, national highways utilise FASTag for toll payment. However, the new

GPS-based system takes connectivity to the next level. Integration of GPS tolling system with GST shall further streamline taxation in the country.

Further attention and stringent implementation are imperative for the crucial aspects of road safety, which encompass vehicle speed management, driving discipline, and prevention of vehicle overloading.