The Narendra Modi government on Tuesday approved Rs seven lakh crore worth of highway projects, including the ambitious Bharatmala, an official said.
The development comes barely few months after Union Minister Nitin Gadkari told PTI that the government will soon launch the Bharatmala project to build over 20,000 kilometres of highways in the first phase.
The Cabinet on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to highway projects worth about Rs seven lakh crore for development of over 80,000 kilometres of highways including Bharatmala project in the next five years, an official who did not wish to be quoted, told PTI.
Road, Transport minister Gadkari had earlier said detailed project reports (DPRs) are being prepared for the Bharatmala project.
Bharatmala is a mega plan of the government and the second-largest highways project after NHDP that saw the development of about 50,000 kilometres and aims at improving connectivity in border and other areas.
The official said the highway projects approved also include economic corridor developments aimed at the faster movement of cargo.
The government had earlier planned to develop economic corridors with a length of about 21,000 kilometres besides 14,000 kilometres of feeder routes. The corridors included Mumbai-Cochin-Kanyakumari, Bengaluru-Mangaluru, Hyderabad-Panaji and Sambalpur-Ranchi, to name a few.
A study under the proposed Bharatmala project by global consultancy firm AT Kearney had identified 44 economic corridors.
The Prime Minister's Office, earlier this year, had asked for Public Investment Board's (PIB) clearance to the first phase of the project. PIB, chaired by the expenditure secretary had later approved it.
Other members of PIB included secretaries of economic affairs, Niti Aayog, statistics and programme implementation, environment and forests, besides the secretary of the administrative ministry concerned.