To facilitate trade with bordering countries like Nepal and Bangladesh, India will link its major highway corridors to international trade points at a cost of Rs 25,000 crore, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said. About 2,000 kms of highways will be constructed under the plan. “About 2,000 kms of highways will be constructed to link major highways corridors to international trade points,” the road transport and highways minister told PTI. He said this will be to facilitate trade with Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The project is part of the Bharatmala Pariyojana, he added. The Cabinet on October 25 had approved a mega plan to build 83,677 kms of highways by March 2022 at a cost of about Rs 7 lakh crore, which includes the ambitious Bharatmala project at a cost of about Rs 5.35 lakh crore. Asked about the funding for the project, Gadkari said the entire Rs 5.35 lakh crore for Bharatmala has been tied up as Rs 2.37 lakh crore would flow from the central road fund, Rs 2.05 lakh crore as market borrowing, Rs 34,000 crore from monetisation of highway projects and Rs 60,000 crore through budgetary allocation. The minister said that besides project to link highway corridors with international trade points, there are several other projects under implementation which aim to facilitate India’s international connectivity with neighbouring countries in South Asia and Asean.
He said a pact on strengthening of road infrastructure in Terai area in Nepal had been inked in 2016. “NHIDCL has been nominated as project management consultant by the Ministry of External Affairs for this,” he said, adding that contracts have been awarded for all 14 projects and work is going on. Earlier this month, Gadkari had said that India has proposed USD 1 billion line of credit to promote sea, air and road connectivity projects with Asean countries. Apart from this, India has set up a project development fund of USD 77 million to develop manufacturing hubs in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.