New Delhi: Union Road Transport and Highways Minister, Nitin Gadkari, announced a significant milestone in India’s infrastructure development, stating that the total length of national highways has expanded by approximately 59% in the past nine years. With this impressive growth, India now boasts the second-largest road network globally, trailing only behind the USA.
Addressing the media in New Delhi, Gadkari revealed, “The total length of National Highways was 91,287 km in 2013-14, which has increased to 1,45,240 km in 2022-23, marking a remarkable rise of more than 59% during this period.”
He further highlighted that the expansion of four-lane national highways has nearly doubled in the same timeframe. In 2013-14, the length of four-lane NH was 18,371 km, which has surged to 44,654 km over the last nine years.
Gadkari emphasized the transformative impact of the FASTag system on the road infrastructure, leading to a significant increase in toll collection. Notably, toll revenues surged from ₹4,770 crore in 2013-14 to ₹41,342 crore in 2022-23. The government’s ambitious target is to elevate toll revenue to ₹1,30,000 crore by 2030, as the FASTag system continues to streamline transactions and enhance efficiency.
The introduction of FASTag has not only expedited toll collection but has also substantially reduced waiting times at toll plazas. Gadkari stated, “In 2014, the waiting time at the toll plazas was 734 seconds, whereas in 2023, this has reduced to 47 seconds. We are hopeful that we will bring it down to 30 seconds soon.”
The minister lauded the transformative impact of FASTag, revolutionizing toll payments and eliminating the need for cash transactions. As a result, a research study estimates that approximately ₹70,000 crore in fuel expenses has been saved due to reduced waiting times at toll plazas.
Gadkari stressed the government’s commitment to expanding the road highway network in the North East region. To that end, projects worth more than ₹2 lakh crore are currently underway in the region. Additionally, 670 roadside facilities are being developed to enhance the travel experience along the national highways.
Under the NHAI’s INVIT (Infrastructure Investment Trust) model, a bond issue garnered immense interest, witnessing seven times oversubscription within its first day of availability on the Mumbai Stock Exchange. Gadkari encouraged investors to consider investing in NHAI INVIT, which offers an attractive interest rate of 8.05%, surpassing traditional bank rates.
The NHAI achieved seven world records, showcasing its commitment to technological advancements and ambition to establish India as the second-largest road network in the world, trailing only behind the USA.
In line with green initiatives, Gadkari highlighted the NHAI’s efforts in tree transplantation and afforestation. Over the last nine years, more than 68,000 trees were transplanted, while 3.86 crore trees were planted along the national highways, demonstrating the ministry’s commitment to environmental conservation.
Gadkari also emphasized sustainable infrastructure development, where the ministry utilized 30 lakh tons of garbage in road construction for the Delhi Ring Road project, showcasing a proactive approach towards waste management.
Furthermore, the introduction of bamboo crash barriers not only promotes safety but also generates employment opportunities and fosters environmental sustainability.
In alignment with the government’s vision for a sustainable future, Gadkari unveiled a plan to promote increased adoption of electric vehicles over the next five years, aiming to reduce carbon emissions and propel clean energy initiatives. The government’s focus on sustainable development continues to shape India’s road infrastructure, ushering in a brighter and greener future.