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To provide a major boost to infrastructure in the country and create jobs, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday announced 1.18 lakh crore financial allocation for the highways sector. "I am... providing an enhanced outlay of 1,18,101 lakh crore for the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, of which 1,08,230 crore is for capital, the highest ever," said Sitharaman while presenting the Union Budget on Monday.

Some of the flagship corridors and other important projects would see considerable activity in 2021-22. More than 13,000 km of roads at a cost of 3.3 lakh crore has already been awarded under the 5.35-lakh crore Bharatmala Pariyojana, of which 3,800 km have been constructed.

"By March 2022, we would be awarding another 8,500 km and complete an additional 11,000 km of national highway corridors," she said.

To further augment road infrastructure, more economic corridors are also being planned, Sitharaman said adding that 3,500 km of national highway works in Tamil Nadu at an investment of 1.03 lakh crore.

These include Madurai-Kollam corridor, Chittoor-Thatchur corridor, she said adding that construction will start next year.

The FM said 1,100 km of national highway works will be undertaken in Kerala at an investment of 65,000 crore, including a 600-km section of Mumbai-Kanyakumari corridor. In addition, 675 km of highway works in West Bengal at a cost of 25,000 crore, including up-gradation of existing road-Kolkata –Siliguri, will also be undertaken.

Besides, national highway works of around 19,000 crore are currently in progress in Assam, she said. Further works of over 34,000 crore covering more than 1,300 km of national highways will be undertaken in the state in the coming three years, the FM added.

The flagship projects that are to be expedited include Delhi-Mumbai Expressway; while for Bengaluru-Chennai Expressway, 278 km will be initiated in the current financial year and construction will begin in 2021-22.

The Delhi-Dehradun Economic Corridor work will be initiated in the current financial year, while the Kanpur-Lucknow Expressway work will be initiated in 2021-22.

Likewise, a 277-km Chennai-Salem corridor will be awarded soon and construction would start in 2021-22. In addition, Raipur-Visakhapatnam 464-km project passing through Chhattisgarh, Odisha and north Andhra Pradesh will be awarded in the current year and construction will start in 2021-22.

Amritsar-Jamnagar construction will commence in 2021-22, while Delhi-Katra construction will commence in 2021-22.

Commenting on the highest ever allocation for the infrastructure, Vijay Chandok, MD & CEO, ICICI Securities said, "The Budget focusses on making India Atmanirbhar by investing big in infrastructure, manufacturing and healthcare, to be aptly funded through higher fiscal deficit, in a benign interest rate scenario. The enhanced capex for Infra and manufacturing measures are likely to be key in generating overall demand as well as drive employment generation."

Terming the Budget a pragmatic one, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said the provisions for augmenting infrastructure will go a long way in laying a sound infra for the country.




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