The ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) is once again likely to get a record high allocation in the upcoming Union budget, with the proposed capital outlay likely to cross the ₹1.5 lakh crore mark, officials familiar with the proposal said on Thursday. This would be the highest ever allocation for the ministry so far.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman is scheduled to present the Budget for the financial year 2022-23 on February 1.

In the financial year 2021-22, the capital outlay for MoRTH was ₹1.18 lakh crore. In the fiscal year 2022-23, the outlay is likely to be ₹1.8 lakh crore, crossing the ₹1.5 lakh crore mark for the first time ever, officials privy to the development said.

The development comes amid work progressing on the central government’s ambitious umbrella highway development scheme – Bharatmala Pariyojana Phase-I. The integrated project includes construction of about 26,000km length of economic corridors, the Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) and North-South and East-West (NS-EW) aimed to ease movement of freight traffic in the country.

“A number of greenfield expressways and other road projects are also being planned in the poll-bound states such as Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and so on. So, these projects in these states are also likely to be mentioned in the Union budget this year. Uttar Pradesh alone, for example, will have about seven greenfield expressways. In Punjab, the 669-km long Delhi-Amritsar-Katra expressway will be constructed at a cost of ₹39,500 crore,” said a ministry official on condition of anonymity.

The increase in budget allocation for the ministry is also significant because the Centre plans to execute infrastructure projects worth ₹7 lakh crore over the next 2-3 years. “Almost 8,400km greenfield expressways are being built as part of the Bharatmala Pariyojana initiative… So far, projects comprising a length of 19,265 kms have been awarded at a cost of Rs. 5,60,216 crore. Of which, about 6,750 km has been completed,” said a second official on condition of anonymity.

As per ministry data, about 4,076 man-days or about 15.5 man-years of employment is required for construction of one kilometer of national highway. This means it would take about 14.2 crore man-days or 5.37 lakh man- years of employment for implementation of Bharatmala Pariyojana.

Records showed that since 2014, the capital expenditure of MoRTH has steadily increased compared to the revenue expenditure. It means more money is being spent on infrastructure (roads and highways) than on administrative expenses.Accordingly, the total length of national highways in the country has increased from about 91,287 km to about 1,40,937 km since April, 2014 till date, data showed.

Source : Hindustan Times