Budget 2020: Government  To Monetise 6,000 Km Of Highways
Construction work takes place on National Highway 1, in Amritsar, India. (Photographer: Pankaj Nangia/Bloomberg News)

Budget 2020: Government To Monetise 6,000 Km Of Highways

The central government has proposed to raise funds by monetising highways by using data from the FASTag payments mechanism.

During the Union Budget 2020, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government would monetise 12 highways, spanning over 6,000 km, before 2024. The FASTag—a reloadable tag which enables automatic deduction of charges at toll plazas—would provide the National Highways Authority of India and other operators with daily traffic and payments data.

“FASTag mechanism encourages us towards greater commercialisation of our highways so that National Highways Authority of India can raise more resources,” the minister said.

Sitharaman made several announcements over boosting financing to infrastructure projects, including:

  • A national infrastructure pipeline with 6,500 projects.
  • National Skill Development Agency to give thrust towards encouraging skills for infrastructure projects.
  • A Project Preparation Facility that will involve young economists, engineers and management graduates in the development and management of infrastructure projects.
  • A National Logistics Policy with focus on generating employment and increasing competition for micro-small-medium enterprises will soon be released. It will have a single-window for e-logisitcs market and will clarify the roles of the central and state governments and regulators.
  • Accelerated development of highways, including 2,000 km access-control highways, 9,000 Km of economic corridors, 2,000 km of coastal and land-port roads and 2,000 km of strategic highways.
  • The Delhi-Mumbai expressway and two others will be completed by 2023 and work on the Chennai-Bengaluru expressway will be started.

The NIP was drawn up by a task force in December last year and includes projects that stretch from 2019-20 to 2024-25. The cumulative spend on the pipeline is estimated at Rs 105 lakh crore.

The pipeline includes greenfield and brownfield projects which are either at the conceptual stage, under implementation and under development. Projects worth about 42 lakh crore are already under implementation.

“These new projects will include housing, safe drinking water, access to clean and affordable energy, healthcare for all, world-class educational institutions, modern railway stations, airports, bus terminals, metros, railway transportation, logistics and warehousing and irrigation projects,” the minister said.

The NIP will improve ease of living for each and every citizen in the country and it will also bring in generic and sector-specific reforms in the development, operation and maintenance of these projects, she added.

With an estimate of Rs 19.5 lakh crore, annual investment spend is expected to peak in FY20-21, according to the task force’s report.

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