Highway projects worth Rs 50,000 crore are being developed in Kerala as part of the Mumbai-Kanyakumari economic corridor under Bharatmala Pariyojana, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday.
He was speaking at a virtual ceremony for the laying of foundation stones for seven highway projects worth Rs 11,571 crore for Kerala, and inauguration of a 27-kilometre highway project from Kazhakoottam to Mukkola, built at a cost of Rs 1,121 crore.
The minister said that in line with the Prime Minister's vision for a New India, development of world-class transport infrastructure has been prioritised through initiatives such as the Bharatmala Pariyojana, the country's largest ever infrastructure development programme.
In addition, there are plans to upgrade 119 kilometres of port connectivity roads under Bharatmala/Sagarmala Scheme, he said.
Flagship corridors such as Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, Delhi-Amritsar Katra Expressway, Chennai-Bengaluru Expressway are also being developed as part of the Bharatmala Pariyojana, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways said in a statement.
"Mumbai-Kanyakumari Economic Corridor with a length of 1,760 kilometres is one such corridor being developed as a part of the Bharatmala Pariyojana," he said.
He noted that the corridor improving connectivity to the entire western coast of the country from Mumbai till Kanyakumari will greatly enable the economic prosperity of the region.
"As a part of the Mumbai-Kanyakumari Economic Corridor, 23 projects with a length of 650 kilometres are being developed in the state of Kerala at an investment of Rs 50,000 crore," the minister said.
He also said that the corridor traversing the entire length of Kerala from North to South is expected to be the lifeline of Kerala. The corridor improves connectivity to major cities/ towns such as Kasargod, Thalassery, Kannur, Kozhikode, Ernakulam, Kochi, Alappuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram.
According to the minister, works have been sanctioned and construction is being initiated in another seven projects of length of 177 kilometres at an investment of Rs 11,571 crore.
It includes construction of high level bridge at Cheruthoni River, which was damaged/ approaches completely washed off due to natural calamities during southwest monsoon season during June 1 to August 19 ,2018.
He said the government is committed to ensure expedited completion of these projects to enable economic prosperity of the state and that the projects will change the face of Kerala.
Bharatmala Pariyojana was conceptualised through a scientific study of freight traffic movement between key origin-destination pairs to enable efficient freight and passenger movement.
Mr Gadkari said that 35,000 kilometres of national highways are being developed as a part of it in the country and out of this, 1,234 kilometres are being developed in Kerala.
Presently, he said that Kerala has national highways of 1,782-kilometre length and 488-kilometre length of national highways have been constructed during 2014-20 period, which is an increase of 569 per cent over 2009-14 period.
The expenditure on construction of national highway from 2014-2020 is Rs 3,820 crore while another Rs 671 crore was spent on maintenance of national highways in the State.
Mr Gadkari also said that works costing Rs 19,800 crore are targeted for completion by 2024 while 30 projects of an aggregate length of 549 kilometres for an amount of Rs 5,327 crore are under implementation.
He asked Chief Minister Pinarai Vijayan to consider PPP (Public Private Partnership) model for road development which will bring more capital in building infrastructure.
Mentioning about very high land acquisition cost for roads in Kerala, Mr Gadkari called for making aggregates and sand royalty free and for exempting other road materials like iron/ steel, cement from state GST that will be very helpful to Kerala for reducing the cost of road construction.