Union Budget 2022: National highways to be increased by 25,000 kms
Union Budget 2022 was presented on Tuesday by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in the Parliament and one of the key announcements made was the plan to increase national highways in the country by 25,000 kms during 2022-23. While Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has previously - and repeatedly underlined how a robust road network in the country provides a means for economic progress, the expansion of the national highway network too could further quicken the pace in this regard.
Pointing to how the PM Gati Shakti plan is one of the four key pillars of growth, FM Sitharaman said that 25,000 kms of national highways will be constructed. The PM Gati Shakti refers to a digital plan which aims to bring 16 Ministries together for integrated planning and coordinated implementation of infrastructure connectivity projects. ""PM Gati Shakti Master Plan for Expressways will be formulated in 2022-23 to facilitate the faster movement of people and goods," Sitharaman said in her Budget 2022 speech, adding that as a preferred ecologically sustainable alternative to conventional roads in difficult hilly areas, the National Ropeways Development Programme will be taken up on the PPP mode.
There has been a big focus on road and highway projects under the NDA government in recent times with Gadkari confirming that the plan is to have two lakh kms of national highways in the country by 2025. The figure at present is 1.40 lakh kms. Even while addressing a joint session of the Parliament on Monday, President Ram Nath Kovind mentioned national highway projects and said that the Delhi-Mumbai expressway - the longest in the country - ‘will be completed soon.’
At a time when the country is looking at bringing down its crude oil import bill, better and wider highway coverage holds the potential for quicker and smoother transport of goods as well as people here. New highways could also take development to far-flung parts of the country.