Skip to main content

Funds, land acquisition issues rock Modi's ambitious Bharatmala highway plan

By Our Representative
The Narendra Modi government has said that it will be spending Rs 14,000 crore for the Prime Minister’s "ambitious" plan to complete the Bharat Mala project, linking Gujarat in the west with Mizoram in the east, but even before it could kickstart, doubts have been expressed about its costs. Meant to “garland” the territory of India, a recent estimate suggests that it would cost at least 53,000 crore or $9 billion.
A top New York-based media group, in a recent expert analysis has called the project as “simply too ambitious”, pointing out, “Building one kilometre of highway in India, according to industry estimates, requires a minimum of about Rs10 crore ($1.5 million). By that measure, constructing 5,300 kilometres of new highway will cost the government, somewhere around Rs 53,000 crore ($9 billion).”
“Presumably, the government will reach out to the private sector for additional funding, but there might not be enough appetite in India Inc. for such a project”, article says, quoting a top expert with the consultants, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, as saying, “Most of the funding will have to come from the government itself,” said Vishwas Udgirkar, a partner at consultancy firm.
“These routes will not see heavy traffic and that would mean that the private sector does not see potential”, the expert has pointed out, adding, “Putting out that sort of money won’t exactly be easy for the government either, which has been struggling to cut expenditure, and restrain the fiscal deficit.”
Pointing out that India’s road sector has itself been in a “complete mess”, the article says, “Until January 2014, as many as 161 projects — worth some Rs 83,000 crore — out of a total of 220 projects awarded under the public-private-partnership (PPP) mode were unfinished.”
And, it says, “between April 2014 and January 2015, the road ministry completed construction of only about 3,038 kilometres of road against a target of 6,300 kilometres.” Yet, it wonders why is the Modi government going ahead with planning to complete “construction of 30 kilometres of road per day for the next two years.”
Quoting yet another consultant, Vinayak Chatterjee, chairman at Feedback Infra, the article says, “There is a huge agenda already pending before the road sector both at the central and state level, including challenging areas such as the borders. The announcement of such a project could improve greater confidence if accompanied by scientific traffic flow estimates on the proposed alignment.”
Things are going to be easy another count, the article says: “The Government of India will have to acquire an enormous ribbon of land that could stretch across as many as 13 states. After beginning in Gujarat, the Bharat Mala project will cut through Rajasthan and Punjab.”
Then, it says, the highway will “cover all the Himalayan states—Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand—before moving to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar”, and “finally touch northeastern states of Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Mizoram.”
The article quotes state roads secretary Vijay Chhibber as saying, “Our idea is to plan for a structured programme for building roads along our borders, especially the northern borders.” But it comments, “Acquiring land across such an expansive stretch won’t be easy. For India’s National Highway Authority, the lead government organisation for road construction in India, the inability to acquire land has been a massive problem.”
“During the review meetings, it is observed that the land acquisition is one of the reasons for delay of completion of projects”, the article further quotes Pon Radhakrishnan, minister of state for roads, as saying last month, adding, “Over 600 road projects in India are currently delayed due to land acquisition problems.”

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through  dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper (retracted) in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Dalits in India, Blacks in US suffer 'similar' humiliation: Macwan drafts letter to Trump

Counterview Desk
Well-known human rights activist Martin Macwan, recipient of the prestigious Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2000, has drafted an open letter to US President Donald Trump following the disturbing turn of events with the murder of George Floyd, leading to widespread protests in the US. He has sought signatures of concerned citizens before sending it to Trump.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.