Bharatmala Project / Bharatmala Pariyojana (BMP)

On October 24, the Government of India has announced to build 83,677 km of roads, highways, green-field expressways and bridges with an investment of Rs. 6.92 Lakh crore over the next few years. This also includes first phase of the Bharatmala programme that would involve construction of 34,800 km of highways by 2022.

What are the current / soon to end projects in road sector?

In 1998, the NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee had launched the famous National Highways Development Programme (NHDP). This project was managed / implemented by NHAI in total seven phases, resulting in development of about 50,000 km of National Highways in the country. The key projects under NHDP were Golden Quadrilateral Project connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata; North-South and East-West corridors and several other highways. The NHDP is expected to close in 2018 and whatever balance work is remaining (around 10,000 kilometres) would be subsumed in the Bharatmala.

What are the current road / infrastructure connectivity programmes?

Currently, there are three infrastructure connectivity programmes in India viz. Bharatmala, Sagarmala and Sethu Bharatam.

  • Bharatmala will be the umbrella road development programme which shall cover various categories of roads.
  • Sagarmala is a port development project comprising road, rail, inland and coastal waterways to improve port connectivity and port-led development.
  • The objective of Sethu Bharatam is to make all national highways free of railway crossings by 2019

What is proposed under Bharatmala Phase-I?

Currently, the government has approved phase-I of Bharatmala which includes development of 34,800 km of various roads and highways. These include:

  • Balance NHDP works (10,000 km)
  • Economic Corridors (9,000 km)
  • Inter Corridor and Feeder Routes (6,000 km)
  • National Corridors Efficiency Improvement (5,000 km)
  • Border Roads and International Connectivity (2,000 km)
  • Coastal Roads and Port Connectivity (2,000 km)
  • Greenfield Expressways (800 km)
  • Total = 34,800 km.

The outlay is shown in below table:

a.Economic corridors development9,0001,20,000
b.Inter-corridor & feeder roads6,00080,000
c.National Corridors Efficiency improvements:5,000100,000
d.Border & International connectivity roads2,00025,000
e.Coastal & port connectivity roads2,00020,000
Balance road works under NHDP10,0001,50,000
*length in km, outlay in Rs. crore

The project is part of the government’s plan on point-to-point expressways and border road connectivity. The aim is to improve the speed of traffic flow on key corridors by providing uniform four-lane roads between two identified points. The Project also aimed at connecting economic corridors, boosting border and international connectivity, as well as connecting coastal roads and inter-linking ports.

Bharatmala project was first mooted in April 2015. It begins from Gujarat and Rajasthan, then move to Punjab and cover Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand followed by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and further to Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and right up to the Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur and Mizoram. The west to east connectivity programme would look like a garland on India’s map – thus its name Bharatmala.

How the project will be funded? Is there any key difference between funding in NHDP and Bharatmala?

The government will mobilize resources for Bharatmala through four different routes viz. market borrowings, central road fund, monetizing government-owned road assets and budgetary allocation. Of the total amount, Rs. 2 Lakh Crore are to be raised as debt from market borrowings, while Rs. 1 Lakh crore will be used from the accrued money in Central Road Fund and toll collections by NHAI.

Regarding difference in the funding patterns – Firstly, NHDP was over-dependent on multilateral funding and market borrowings and needed the government to service a huge debt. In Bharatmala project also, the government may go for soft loans from multilateral funding institutions but that does not seem to be massive {we yet to see official documents on this}. Secondly, in NHDP, there was huge share of PPP projects. In Bharatmala, it appears that government will fund most of the project but some works will be taken up using PPP approach also. It is estimated that around 80% of Bharatmala will be government funded, engineering procurement and construction (EPC) model and rest will be mainly hybrid-annuity public private partnership.

What are the execution authorities?

For speedy and timely execution of the project apart from ministry of road transport and highways and state-run firms—NHAI and National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL and respective state public works departments (PWDs) will be worked together in execution of the project.

What are potential benefits of the project?

The key benefits include logistics, cost and economic activity and employment generation.

  • Currently, we have 6 national corridors. Completion of Bharatmala will give the country total 50 national corridors. Currently, 40% freight moves along National Highways, it will be boosted to 70-80%. It will connect 550 districts to national highways; this number stands at 300 now. Overall, this will boost India’s Logistic Performance Index (LPI).
  • The programme will also help generate a large number of direct and indirect employment in the construction activity, the development of highways amenities and also as part of the enhanced economic activity in different parts of the country that will result from better road connectivity .
  • This in turn makes government’s other schemes like ‘Make-in-India’ more competitive and attractive to investors.
  • It is estimated that the project will generate 142 million man-days of jobs
  • The economic corridors developed under this project would ensure that time taken for transporting goods from manufacturing sectors is reduced.
  • The Coastal roads proposed under this project will boost Tourism
  • As the GST aims to create a common market by dismantling inter-state tariff barriers. A robust road infrastructure created under this project will help in that direction.
  • The Bharatmala project is also expected to boost the associated industries like cement and steel sectors; and generate lakhs of jobs.

The project would further optimise the efficiency of movement of goods and people across the country.

Context & Questions


Govt clears BharatMala road connectivity project.

Questions for GS Mains

Critically discuss the successive governments’ efforts towards road connectivity infrastructure development in India. Do you think that the tangible targets set under Bharatmala are achievable? [GS-III: Infrastructure]