Referring to PM GatiShakti Master Plan, which will also cover states’ infrastructure projects, the FM said it will be a “transformative” approach for economic growth and development leading to huge job opportunities. The programme, which envisages integrated planning, providing last mile connectivity and ultimately to reduce logistics costs, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sitharaman said the programme will focus on planning, innovative financing, use of technology and speedier implementation. “The touchstone of the Master Plan will be world-class modern infrastructure and logistics synergy among different modes of movement — both of people and goods — and location of projects,” she said. To incentivise states to participate meaningfully in GatiShakti, an additional Rs 1 lakh crore support is tied to reforms in urban infra regime, while also restricting the creation of assets like airports in a far-flung place without adequate connectivity.
Roads & Highways
The FM said the government will frame a GatiShakti Master Plan for Expressways in 2022-23 and add another 25,000 km of roads to the existing 1.4 lakh km NH network. It will be the maximum ever in any fiscal. The government also enhanced the budgetary allocation for road transport and highways by 52% to to Rs 1.99 lakh crore. The government has also gone ahead with full budgetary support for NH development by provisioning “zero” borrowing for the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) amid the fear of the highway construction agency getting into a “debt trap”. Earlier, NHAI could borrow up to Rs 60,000 crore to Rs 65,000 crore annually. It is expected to raise Rs 20,000 crore from monetisation of highways during 2022-23, compared to Rs 13,000 crore during the current fiscal.
The Budget specified that a mechanism will be set up for data exchange among operators of all modes of transport on Unified Logistics Interface Platform (ULIP). This will provide for efficient movement of goods through different modes, reducing logistics cost and time, assisting inventory management, and eliminating tedious documentation, the finance minister said.
Sitharaman said the railways will roll out 400 hundred new generation Vande Bharat trains, which fare better on the twin counts of energy efficiency and passenger experience, in the next three years. Railways will also develop 100 PM GatiShakti cargo terminals for multi-modal logistics facilities by 2024-25. Moreover, 2,000 km of the railway network will be brought under Kavach, indigenously developed train collision avoidance system, in 2022-23.
She also said railways will develop products and efficient logistics services for small farmers and small and medium enterprises, besides taking the lead in integration of postal and railways networks to provide seamless solutions for movement of parcels. Railway minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said that the plan will be a “game changer” as the plan envisages integration of a 1.5 lakh post offices and 8,000 railway stations that will help small traders, women self help groups from villages and small towns to send their products to different parts of the world seamlessly. He said there will be a common platform for availing the service and seamless transport of items.
The government has proposed budgetary allocation of Rs 1.4 lakh crore for the railways, an increase of 16% from the 2021-22 RE. Besides, the railways can also raise up to Rs 1.08 lakh crore from the market for its projects.
Sitharaman said the government will take up ropeway connectivity works under the Parvatmala (National Ropeways Development) programme on PPP mode as a preferred ecologically-sustainable alternative to conventional roads in difficult hilly areas. This programme is aimed at improving connectivity and promoting tourism. It is also likely to cover congested urban areas where a conventional mass transit system is not feasible. The programme will be implemented by the road transport ministry. Road transport minister Nitin Gadkari said eight ropeway projects with a cumulative length of 60 km will be bid out during 2022-23.