Jaitley slots Rs 97,000 crore for roads, vows to end permit raj
With highways sector becoming a focus area for the Narendra Modi government, the game changing initiatives include upgradation of 50,000 kms of state highways into national highways, rolling out of 85 per cent of the stuck Rs 1 lakh crore projects and construction and award of 10,000 km roads each.
This is a totally unreformed sector which suffers from several impediments. Abolition of permit-raj will be our medium term goal... Entrepreneurs will be able to operate buses on various routes, subject to certain efficiency and safety norms, Finance Minister said tabling the budget. “I have proposed an allocation of Rs 55,000 crore in the Budget for Roads and Highways. This will be further topped up by additional Rs 15,000 crore to be raised by NHAI through bonds. Thus the total investment in the road sector, including PMGSY (Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojna) allocation, would be Rs 97,000 crore during 2016-17,” Jaitley said.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari termed it a “revolutionary” and “historic” budget with much emphasis on infrastructure and said the government has been able to revive the road sector which has been languishing in the “ICU” and now in months to come it will gain much momentum.
He said not only entrepreneurs will be able to ply buses but permit raj prevalent in the sector would be demolished. The Finance Minister while presenting the budget said, “The major benefits of this game changing initiative will be provision of more efficient public transport facilities, greater public convenience, new investment in this moribund sector, creation of new jobs for our youth, growth of start-up entrepreneurs and other multiplier effects.” These measures will take us faster down the road to development, he said. The government will enact necessary amendments in the Motor Vehicles Act and open up the road transport sector in the passenger segment, he said adding, an enabling eco-system will be provided for the States which will have the choice of adopting the new legal framework. India s highest ever kilometres of new highways were awarded in 2015. At the same time, India s highest ever production of motor vehicles was achieved in 2015.
“This is a sign of growth in the economy; but it presents a challenge also. Therefore, we have speeded up the process of road construction...Together with the capital expenditure of the railways, the total outlay on roads and railways will be Rs 2,18,000 crore in 2016-17,” Jaitley said. He said the government expect to approve nearly 10,000 kms of National Highways in 2016-17 which will be much higher than in the two previous years. The pace of completion of road projects will rise to 10,000 kms in 2016-17. In addition, nearly 50,000 kms of State highways will be up-gradaded to National Highways.
The Finance Minister said in the road sector, there were more than 70 projects that were languishing at the beginning of the year, due to legacy factors. “Aggregate length of these projects was about 8,300 kms involving more than Rs 1 lakh crore investment. With exemplary and proactive interventions by highways Minister (Nitin) Gadkari, nearly 85 per cent of these projects have been put back on track,” he said.
The Road Transport and Highways Ministry’s budget allocation for 2014-15 stood at Rs 33,048 crore while the Revised Estimate for 2015-16 was Rs 47,107 crore. The estimate for 2016-17 stood at Rs 57,976 crore. To augment infrastructure spending further, Government will permit mobilisation of additional finances to the extent of Rs 31,300 crore by NHAI, PFC, REC, etc through raising of Bonds during 2016-17.