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

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

Stagnating wages since 2014-15: Economists explain Modi legacy for informal workers

By Our Representative  Real wages have barely risen in India since 2014-15, despite rapid GDP growth. The country’s social security system has also stagnated in this period. The lives of informal workers remain extremely precarious, especially in states like Jharkhand where casual employment is the main source of livelihood for millions. These are some of the findings presented by economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera at a press conference convened by the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign. 

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Joblessness, saffronisation, corporatisation of education: BJP 'squarely responsible'

Counterview Desk  In an open appeal to youth and students across India, several student and youth organizations from across India have said that the ruling party is squarely accountable for the issues concerning the students and the youth, including expensive education and extensive joblessness.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Following the 3000-year old Pharaoh legacy? Poll-eve Surya tilak on Ram Lalla statue

By Sukla Sen  Located at a site called Abu Simbel in Nubia, Upper Egypt, the eponymous rock temples were created in 1244 BCE, under the orders of Pharaoh Ramesses II (1303-1213 BC)... Ramesses II was fond of showcasing his achievements. It was this desire to brag about his victory that led to the planning and eventual construction of the temples (interestingly, historians say that the Battle of Qadesh actually ended in a draw based on the depicted story -- not quite the definitive victory Ramesses II was making it out to be).

Why it's only Modi ki guarantee, not BJP's, and how Varanasi has seen it up-close

"Development" along Ganga By Rosamma Thomas*  I was in Varanasi in this April, days before polling began for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. There are huge billboards advertising the Member of Parliament from Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The only image on all these large hoardings is of the PM, against a saffron background. It is as if the very person of Modi is what his party wishes to showcase.