Infrastructure has been a priority for the Modi government in the last five years. It made a significant investment in public transport, highway construction, railways, and water transport and air connectivity. The large public investment in infrastructure was supported by oil bonanza which government got in initial years due to a slump in crude prices.
There has been a very low investment in roads sector by the UPA government because various welfare programs like MGNREGA have constrained the government from financing infrastructure building. The last big push in road development was in NDA-1 government led by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The two big infrastructure projects- Golden Quadrilateral Network and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) were started during this time.
NDA-2 government also prioritizes infrastructure spending like NDA-1. After the completion of five years, PM Modi led government has achieved enormous success in the field of infrastructure development. The minister who is taking forward the Modi government’s agenda is Nitin Gadkari.
The exceptional and innovative minister is set to complete another mega project in the next one year. This project is four-lane Mumbai-Goa Highway along the Arabian Sea coastline being built on the lines of Los Angeles-San Francisco Pacific Coast Highway. “Work under the project is in full swing and the work will be complete within a year,” said Gadkari in answer to a question in parliament.
Previously, the project was stopped on the Bombay High Court order. The court order was regarding environmental clearances, however, the Supreme Court cleared the construction work in May. The coastal highway will reduce the travel time between Mumbai and Goa from 12 hours to 7 hours.
The project which is being hailed as Gateway to Konkan is 590 km long and is part of 1,622-km-long NH-66 which runs through the beautiful Konkan coast. The NH-66 passes through Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and also connects major seaports of JNPT near Mumbai to Kollam in Kerala.
Under the Bharatmala scheme, the land acquisition and project approval have been completed for 6,500 km roads. The Ministry of Road Transport has decided to invest 7 lakh crore rupees under the Bharatmala project which was launched in October 2017. The money for the project would come from the market, private investment, central road fund (toll collection) and Bharatmala Taxable Bonds. The Ministry aims to construct 65,000 km of highway under the Bharatmala Project.
In 2019 general election manifesto, BJP had promised 144 lakh crore rupees investment in the next five years if the party comes to power. As the scope for government is limited, the money will be sourced from private players and this boosted the confidence of financers. In the March quarter, the total loan given for infra projects was 52000 crore rupees compared 14400 crores in the previous quarter. This is the highest loan to infrastructure project since 2011. The private players expect a moderate return from infrastructure projects but the money is secure given the government backing.
Infrastructure has indeed been a priority for the Modi government. It has made a significant investment in public transport, highway construction, railways, water transport, and air connectivity. In the next five years, India is expected to have world-class infrastructure on land, water and air.