Home / Industry / Infrastructure /  Highway repair budget likely to surge

NEW DELHI : The ministry of road transport and highways proposes to raise the budget for road maintenance and repairs manifold from the next financial year as it sets out to erase the potholes that litter highways across the country.

The budget for this important part of highway development is expected to be raised to about 10% of the allocation for the ministry (MoRTH) in FY24 from a mere 4% now, two people aware of the plan said.

According to one of them, the changes would be introduced in the budget for 2023-24.

The current year’s budget (FY23) announced a record increase in allocation for MoRTH by around 68% to nearly 2 trillion. The lion’s share went to highway developer NHAI which saw its allocation rising 133% to 1.3 trillion.

But in the entire allocation, the budget for road maintenance and repairs (M&R) was kept at less than 4% of the annual allocation at just 6,000-8,000 crore.

“The budget for important activity of M&R just meets 40% of the estimated requirement as per MoRTH’s norms. This leads to thin spreading of available resources. This is one of the main reasons for the inability to take up timely maintenance interventions. Efforts are now being made so that the national highways are kept in traffic-worthy condition through higher provision of funds," said the person cited above.

Questions mailed to MoRTH on the proposed increase in M&R budget remained unanswered.

The officials quoted above said that M&R is now a big priority for MoRTH which is expecting to get about a 25% increase in allocation in Budget 2023-24. A 25% increase in budget for MoRTH will take its allocation to about 2.5 trillion and 10% of this amount would mean that the budget for maintenance and repair would go up substantially to about 25,000 crore.

“This much of budget is absolutely essential maintaining the standards of Indian highways. The higher M&R budget will still keep India behind several advanced countries where maintenance budgets are often 40-50% of the total budget," said a road sector expert from one of the four big consultancy firms asking not to be named due to his association with ongoing work for the ministry.

The latest edition of World Road Statistics (WRS), for 2018, puts India in the top position globally in terms of the number of people killed in road accidents and third in the number of accidents. One of the major reasons for deaths on highways is the poor quality of roads.

According a recent parliamentary panel report, almost 40% of Indian roads are unpaved. National Highways constitute less than 3% of the total road network and 40% of villages have no access to all-weather roads. Pothole ridden roads, uneven speed breakers, lack of service roads and general lack of maintenance are characteristic of Indian roads, the committee’s report has said.


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