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"The programme will help connect 550 districts through national highways, compared with around 300 districts at present", he said.

He added that the government's marque Bharatmala scheme will create 100 million man-days of jobs during the construction phase and 22 million permanent jobs due to the increased economic activity triggered by it.

The Minister said apart from Rs 5,35,000 crore for the first phase, there is a requirement of Rs 1,57,324 crore for ongoing projects under various schemes, and thus, overall outlay will be Rs 6,92,324 crore over five years.

The government also approved the construction of 2,000 km of roads, along the eastern and western borders of the country to boost border roads and global connectivity.

As per plan, the National Highways Authority of India's (NHAI) proposal to construct a third ring road in Delhi has also been included in the Bharatmala project.

Noting that Bharatmala is the "biggest ever programme approved by Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs in its history", Gadkari said it will enable the country to bridge the "highway sector infra deficit" by 2022.

During the presentation, the Minister has highlighted 185 choke points identified to decongest corridors that include bypasses of Agra, Varanasi, Sasaram on Kolkata-Delhi corridor, Aurangabad bypass area on Mumbai-Kolkata corridor, Amritsar bypass on Amritsar-Jamnagar corridor, Gwalior bypass on Agra-Mumbai corridor, Nanded bypass on Hyderabad-Aurangabad corridor, Firozabad bypass on Kolkata-Delhi corridor, Bellary bypass on Bellary-Solapur corridor.

It aims at improving connectivity in border and other areas. The project will transit through Bangladesh to improve the North East connectivity.

Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday Mr Gadkari said the work on project preparation was in advanced stage for 19,500 km and about 9,000 km bids were invited for engagement of consultant for preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR). 70 to 80 per cent of freight will move along the national highways against 40 per cent at present.

Commenting upon the growth registered by the Indian ports, Gadkari said they will earn Rs60,000 crore profit in the current financial year.

A day after the Union Cabinet approved a mega package of highway projects including the ambitious Bharatmala, road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said the most of works in those projects worth around Rs 7 lakh crore would be awarded by December 2018.

"Money is not the problem", Gadkari said while stating that NHAI has a AAA rating which will help it tap the capital markets.

Bharatmala project will be funded through market borrowings, central road funds, monetising government-owned road assets, and budgetary allocation.


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