India's highways infrastructure will match that of the U.S. by 2024 for which work in time bound 'mission mode' is on including construction of green expressways and rail over bridges, Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said.
He said Cabinet nod to 'Bharatmala 2' is likely soon and once obtained it will meet the requirements of a robust infrastructure in the country.
"I am confident that India's highways will be on par with that of the US by 2024. Work in a time-bound mission mode is on to build a robust infrastructure including a network of green expressways across the length and breadth of India," Mr. Gadkari told PTI in an interview.
The Road Transport and Highways Minister said in this year railway over bridges are being constructed at a cost of ₹16,000 crore which will be increased to ₹ 50,000 crore in five years.
On the Kailash Mansarovar highway project via Pithoragarh, Mr. Gadkari said "93% work on Kailash Mansarovar project has been completed."
With the completion of this project, the arduous trek through treacherous high-altitude terrain can be avoided by pilgrims of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra and the period of journey will be reduced by many days.
At present, travel to Kailash Mansarovar takes around two to three weeks through Sikkim or Nepal routes.
On Bharatmala Phase 2, the Minister said: "Nod is likely soon to Bharatmala Phase 2 that will further accelerate the making of highways."
About 5,000 km of highway network is envisaged under phase 2 initially.
Bharatmala Pariyojana is India's largest infrastructure programme to develop about 35,000 km of National Highway corridors, connecting over 580 districts in the nation. The programme signalled a paradigm shift to corridor approach of infrastructure development.
The overall network of the nation was reimagined through scientific studies including, Origin - Destination study of freight movement across 600 districts and crow-flight alignment for optimised routes to reduce transit time.
"In Jharkhand, work of seven greenfield expressways, economic corridor and inter corridor is being done at a cost of ₹70,000 crore," Mr. Gadkari told PTI.
Besides work worth ₹50,000 crore is being done for better connectivity with states like Odisha, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, he said.
Providing details of the projects, the minister said 4-lane inter corridor work is being done at a cost of ₹6,200 crore for Ranchi-Varanasi Inter Corridor which will reduce the travel time significantly between Ranchi and Varanasi.
Likewise, the 635 km Raipur-Dhanbad economic corridor is being constructed at a cost of ₹15,000 crore and would ensure faster movement of coal, steel, cement and minerals, he said.
The other projects included ₹22,000 crore Varanasi-Ranchi-Howrah 620 km access-controlled green expressway and ₹6,300 crore Ranchi-Sambalpur greenfield economic corridor for 230 km.
Apart from these Varanasi-Chordaha (Jharkhand-Bihar border) 6-lane 262 km economic corridor being built on completion will provide excellent hassle free connectivity to Kolkata, Assam, Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh from Jharkhand, he added.
Other projects, the minister said include the ₹5,000 crore Ranchi Ring Road and added that the detailed project report for this 194 km highway will be completed in May 2023.
This ring road will pass through Hazaribag, Latehar, Lohardaga, Gumla, Khunti, Jamshedpur and Hazaribag.