New Delhi: Targeting a four-fold increase in highway construction to 20 km per day, the road transport and highways ministry is seeking doubling the budgetary allocation for building roads that do not fall under the purview of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).
“Transport minister Kamal Nath is seeking Rs6,000 crore budgetary support from finance minister Pranab Mukherjee as compared to Rs3,350 crore available (now),” an official source said.
Besides projects under the NHAI, the government also earmarks funds for constructing roads, undertaken by various state government agencies and municipal corporations. Nath will be seeking Rs6,000 crore for this.
Nath, sources said, will also be pressing for including “innovative funding” schemes in the Budget for boosting the country’s roads infrastructure development.
The ministry is likely to pitch for setting up a Road Finance Corporation (RFC) with an initial corpus of Rs500 crore to provide easy financing options for the sector.
“The RFC is Nath’s own idea and this will be among the major items on his wishlist for the Union Budget,” another official said.
Among other things, the transport minister will also ask the finance ministry to allow the NHAI to raise Rs5,000 crore this fiscal to fund road construction.
Apart from this, the NHAI has launched tax-free bonds to raise up to Rs4,000 crore in the current fiscal to fund its road projects.
“The NHAI plans to raise at least Rs3,000 crore (out of the Rs4,000 crore) through tax-free bonds in 2009-10 to fund various highways projects. It had raised Rs1,700 crore in the previous fiscal (2008-09) to strengthen the sector,” NHAI member (finance) A. Didar Singh had said.
The minister will also press for hiking the cess on sales of petrol and diesel from Rs2 currently to Rs3 per litre for building roads and highways.
Another item on the wishlist will be getting additional allocation for improving bus depots across the country.
“We are looking for Rs500 crore for the purpose in the upcoming Budget,” the official said.
These funds would be utilised for building commercial complexes within the depots, introducing GPS (Global Positioning System) for buses and improving bus shelters.