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    By 2022, govt to lay 18,637km of expressways

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    NEW DELHI: The government has drawn up an ambitious target to lay 18,637km network of brand new expressways by 2022. These high-speed, access-controlled roads will be of the four-lane and six-lane variety with 3,530 km to come up in the next three years.

    The highways ministry is ready with a Master Plan for the National Expressway Network. The new target of expressway length was projected after receiving observations from 11 states including Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh. Earlier, the final draft report prepared by the highways ministry had proposed to develop 17,661 km of expressway network.

    The expressways network will not be an upgraded national highway network but will be developed entirely as greenfield projects. These will preferably be built with three-metre high embankments and will have service roads along the stretches where there is a need. Officials said there was an urgent need to develop expressways network as road transport would remain the mainstay for sustaining the economic momentum of the country.

    “The existing arterial network cannot meet the latent and the emerging demands for connectivity and accessibility while ensuring the desired level of safety,” said a senior ministry official.

    As per estimates, the construction cost per km would be Rs 14 crore in case of 4-lane and Rs 20 crore in case of 6-lane expressways excluding land acquisition and other expenses. A recent presentation made before the top brass of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the ministry also mentioned that while majority of identified stretches would be built on build-operate-transfer (BOT) mode, stretches which were unviable could be developed on annuity basis.

    The Master Plan document has also phased the expressway development programme for 2012, 2017 and 2022 and this has been done on the basis of financial viability, relative traffic intensity along various corridor segments, network comprehensiveness, connectivity warrants and relative economic potential of each proposed project.

    The ministry is already in the process of preparing a draft for creation of a National Expressways Authority of India (NEAI) on the lines of NHAI and the highway regulator has also got an exclusive wing for the expressway as a stop-gap arrangement.
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