Centre plans to operationalise high speed corridors, award new projects | Economy & Policy News

The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) plans to operationalise 700 kilometres of high-speed corridors, award 3,000 kilometres of highway projects, and implement a scheme for cashless treatment for accident victims following the Lok Sabha elections, a senior government official said.

These are among the several points of action that the ministry has made as part of its 100-day plan for the new government. On Monday, MORTH informed the Union Cabinet that it has deliberated on these plans.

“The ministry has deliberated the programmes for the first 100 days of the new incoming Government as well as the programmes for Viksit Bharat in consultation with all its agencies and stakeholders,” it said in its monthly report to the cabinet.

The Centre had been working on a large-scale cabinet proposal worth Rs 20 trillion to sanction highway works planned in consonance with Vision 2047, which is yet to be approved by the Union Cabinet.

“Getting the cabinet note approved is the first order of business, as the ministry needs to award the requisite projects to absorb the capital expenditure and ensure that the pace of highway building isn’t slowed down,” the official said.

MORTH plans to construct over 1,700 km of highways in the first three months post-elections and award over 3,000 km. The ministry had missed its original highway awarding target of nearly 13,000 km by a wide margin last fiscal year, as it couldn’t award projects due to delays in the approval of the revised estimates of its flagship Bharatmala programme, the cost of which has doubled since its inception.

“(Awarding was) 8,581 km against a target of 13,290 km. The major shortfall was because of Bharatmala where the revised approval of the Cabinet could not be obtained,” it told Cabinet in its report at the end of FY24.

The ministry will also look to execute the test launch of the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle. In 2022, currently caretaker minister for highways Nitin Gadkari had launched a hydrogen-powered car, and several initiatives have since been launched by the government for the proliferation of green hydrogen.

Moreover, the ministry will also look to rectify black spots on national highways, which have caused numerous accidents and deaths in the past.

Despite record investments in road infrastructure, road accidents continue to be on an alarming rise in India, with over 460,000 accidents taking place in 2022, killing 1,68,491 people — the highest since 2005.

According to the ministry’s annual road accidents report for 2022, a total of 461,312 road accidents were reported by States and Union Territories during the calendar year 2022, which caused injuries to 443,366 persons.

The ministry will look to launch its cashless treatment programme for accident victims to mitigate the loss of life due to these accidents.

Operationalisation of 50 wayside amenities is also on the ministry’s 100-day agenda. Currently, 50 such amenities are operational.

First Published: May 15 2024 | 7:53 PM IST

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