After facing several setbacks due to the pandemic, activity in the road sector has regained pace. In February 2021, construction speed reached 30 km per day, the highest record achieved by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). Bharatmala Pariyojana, the umbrella programme for road development, was launched in 2017 with a corridor approach as opposed to a package-based approach of the previous National Highways Development Project (NHDP). The scheme has been segregated into six components – economic corridors, national corridor efficiency improvement, inter-corridor and feeder routes, coastal and port connectivity roads, border and international connectivity roads, and expressways. The objective is to optimise the effectiveness of freight and passenger movement across the country by linking critical infrastructure gaps through efficient intervention. Around 65,000 km of national highways are envisioned under the scheme.
Under Phase I of the Bharatmala Pariyojana, a road length of 34,800 km, inclusive of 10,000 km of balance road works under the NHDP, is aimed to be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 5.35 trillion. The cost has now risen to Rs 8.25 trillion owing to increasing civil and land acquisition costs. Delays in project execution have shifted the expected completion year of the scheme from 2021 to 2022.
As of February 2021, contracts for a road length of 13,521 km had been awarded at a cost of Rs 3.3 trillion while 3,800 km length had been constructed. The detailed project report (DPR) for 16,500 km is in the pipeline. Furthermore, bids have been invited for 4,800 km. Out of the 24,800 km approved under Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase I, a total of 488 projects of length 17,343 km have been awarded as of June 17, 2021. Similarly, out of the residual NHDP component to be completed under Bharatmala Phase I, a total of 116 projects covering 5,077 km length have been awarded till date. The details are as provided in the table below.