25 Years of Indian Infrastructure: Release of the Special Commemorative Issue

Nitin Jairam Gadkari, Union Minister, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, formally released Indian Infrastructure’s 25th Anniversary Issue on September 27, 2023. The event was attended by leading representatives of the infrastructure sector. Excerpts from the minister’s address on the occasion…

“My special best wishes to Indian Infrastructure magazine for their successful journey of 25 years and for their valuable contribution regarding the development of Indian infrastructure.”

“I strongly believe that infrastructure development is crucial to a country’s economic growth and progress. A robust and well-connected road and transport network, strong power and water infrastructure, and advanced communication network are all fundamental to industrial growth as well as important for ushering in capital investment. Both industrial growth and capital investment are crucial for employment generation, which, in turn, will ultimately result in eradicating poverty.”

“The vision of achieving a 5 trillion economy and making India aatma nirbhar has infrastructure development at its bedrock.”

“I am very happy to share that our national highway network is the second longest in the world. Before the end of 2024, our aim is to make our road infrastructure equivalent to that of USA. The pace at which we are progressing, I am confident of achieving this.”

The length of roads with four lanes stands at 44,654 km today, a 143 per cent increase from 2014; the length of two-lane roads with paved shoulders is 88,941 km; and the length of high-speed corridors is approximately 3,106 km, a 779 per cent increase from 353 km in 2014. The national highway construction rate has reached 37 km per day, a 219 per cent rise from 11.6 km per day in 2014.”

“Road tunnel infrastructure has seen significant augmentation. A total of 154 tunnels, spanning 425 km, are being constructed on national highways at a cost of Rs 2.5 trillion. Of this, 30 tunnels spanning 45 km are operational, 59 tunnels spanning 122 km are under implementation, and 65 tunnels spanning 258 km are at the DPR stage. Between Srinagar and Jammu alone, we are developing 18 tunnels, of which 14 are already completed. By December end, the remaining four will also be completed.”

“Earlier, the travel distance between Manali and Rohtang Pass was 3.5 hours. Now, with the Atal Tunnel, one can easily reach within 8 minutes. The Zojila Tunnel is another notable tunnel, the highest in Asia, providing connectivity between Srinagar and Ladakh, spanning a length of 11 km. The way we are developing road infrastructure, it is going to create more tourism, growth and employment potential in the country.”

“FASTag penetration now stands at 98 per cent. FASTag issuances are more than 72.6 million, the average daily toll collection is over Rs 1.45 billion, and the total toll collection during the past five years is Rs 1.62 trillion. We are now focusing on moving to a satellite-based toll system. We want to abolish toll plazas.”

“Some of the key trends and focus areas for the future will be satellite-based tolling to monitor vehicle movement and calculate toll charges, eliminating the need for physical toll plazas; the adoption of digital tools and technologies for O&M to tackle escalating traffic volumes; and road safety measures. There will also be a growing focus on environment-friendly road construction and maintenance practices such as utilising recycled materials, implementing eco-friendly technologies and minimising the carbon footprint of road projects. Finally, the emergence of connected and autonomous vehicles will necessitate the development of appropriate infrastructure, regulations and policies.”

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On the occasion, we also presented our first-ever Award for Outstanding Contribution to Infrastructure Development to Mr Gadkari. This award is in recognition of not only his record-breaking achievements in the road sector over the past few years, but also his stewardship of the port sector earlier and his many pioneering initiatives when serving in the Maharashtra Government several years ago.