Prior to the Budget announcement, there were expectations and speculations that the finance minister may give a push to the country’s infrastructure including roadways, railways, and airways.
The expectation is based on the statistics of fund allocation in the last five years. The investments made in improving roadways has increased over three-fold from Rs.51,914 crore in 2014-15 to Rs.1,58,839 crore in 2018-19.
Nirmala Sitharaman’s maiden Budget announced on 5 July 2019, did not disappoint this expectation. She stated that the government will carry out a comprehensive restructuring of national highways. The programme focuses on developing a National Highway Grid of desirable length and capacity using a financeable model.
In addition, the Bharatmala programme aims at developing national road corridors and highways, while Sagarmala programme aims at enhancing port connectivity, port-linked industrialisation, and modernisation. The latter programme also gives a boost to external trade.
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Similarly, the finance minister also spoke about the Jal Marg Vikas project. She said that the capacity augmentation on national waterways will smoothen internal trade carried out via inland water transport.
These programmes will reduce the cost of transportation for domestically produced goods and, in turn, improves logistics. This will also lead to reduced congestion on the roads and railways.
After completing the initiative of highway infrastructure, the government is scheduled to focus on the state road network in the second phase. There are plans to upgrade roads connecting villages to rural markets.
Under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGY), the government aims to upgrade 1,25,000km of road length over the next five years at an estimated cost of Rs.80,250 crore.