BHARATMALA PROJECT (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 - Infrastructure)

News-CRUX-10     11th August 2023        
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Context: The CAG report has found irregularities in award of the government's flagship Bharatmala highway projects and said that the implementing agencies violated the tendering processes. 

  • The report, titled “Implementation of Phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojna,” was submitted to Parliament. 

Key Finding of the report

  • The violations include successful bidder not fulfilling tender conditions or bidder selected on the basis of falsified documents and award of works without approved detailed project reports (DPRs) or faulty reports.
  • It highlighted that implementing agencies such as the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) were awarding projects without ensuring the availability of required land and forest clearance. 
  • This has resulted in delays in the commencement and completion of projects.
  • It also identified deficiencies in the appraisal and approval mechanism proposed to the cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA). 
  • Concerning fund management, the auditor found that only 75.6% of the Cabinet-approved length has been awarded, while 158% of the approved financial outlay was sanctioned as of March-end. 
  • This has resulted in a higher sanctioned civil cost and pre-construction cost per kilometer compared to the approved costs set by the CCEA.

Bharatmala Project

  • About: Bharatmala Pariyojana is a new umbrella program for the highways sector envisaged by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways that focuses on optimizing the efficiency of freight and passenger movement across the country. 
  • Under Phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojana, the implementation of 34,800 km of national highways in 5 years (from 2017 to 2022) has been approved at an estimated outlay of Rs. 5,35,000 crore.

  • Key features:
  • The Bharatmala project envisions improving the efficiency of the National Corridor including the Golden-Quadrilateral and North, South –East West corridors by decongesting the choke points through the construction of elevated corridors, bypasses, ring roads, lane expansion, and logistics parks at identified points. 
  • The project plan includes the construction of Border Roads of strategic importance along international boundaries and International Connectivity roads to promote trade with Myanmar, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.
  • The program has identified around 26,200 km of Economic Corridors or routes that have heavy freight traffic.
  • Feeder Corridors will be developed to address the infrastructure asymmetry that exists in many places.
  • All projects implemented under Bharatmala are to be technically, financially, and economically appraised by an empowered Project Appraisal & Technical Scrutiny Committee to be set up in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH).
  • Emphasis on the use of scientific and technological planning for Project Preparation and Asset Monitoring.
  • Satellite mapping of corridors to identify up-gradation requirements.
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