The National Democratic Alliance or NDA, credited for fast development of infrastructure during its previous rule, is now back in power and is exploring ways to widen the network of cheap and durable road network across the country.
The Road Transport and Highways Ministry is planning to shift from the bitumen-made roads to the more durable concrete roads, according to a report appearing in a section of the press. The Ministry, keeping in mind the higher cost of cement roads, has planned to deal with cement makers on a long-term basis with a view to purchasing the construction material at a lower cost.
Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has enquired authorities concerned for a cost analysis as the proposed plan for a long-term contract could bring down the cost of investment in road construction by 37 percent in case of direct purchase from the cement manufacturers.
If the massive drive to widen the road network in the country, as proposed by the new regime, is launched, the cement industry hit by poor demand, especially in the southern states, will get a big boost and may help the entire economy to get rid of its present sluggishness.
According to an earlier report, the UPA Government had said in an affidavit that the length of the national highways in India was 29,023 km in 1980, which rose to 76,818 km by the end of 2012. The national highways were expanded to 76,818 km by 2012, an addition of 47,795 km in 32 years.
The affidavit had added that during ninth five-year plan, when the BJP-led NDA was in power at the Centre, 23,814 km of national highways was added which is nearly 50 per cent of the total length of national highways laid since 1980. It is significant to note that this has been the highest length of the national highways built in a five-year plan.
On the other hand, during the decade-long UPA rule, nearly 16,000 km was added to the national highways network, much lesser than that of the NDA rule.
With an infrastructure-friendly NDA back in power, it is hoped that the economy will again get a boost under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose Gujarat model of development has been widely acclaimed.