The Union Department of Transportation has unveiled an ambitious $1 trillion national highway network that will build 5,795 kilometers of roads in 117 emerging counties. Apart from the 5,566 km of highways already under construction in these areas, the ministry has identified 221 expansion projects, including 222 projects costing Rs 66,000 crore. In total, NHAI will spend $1.04 trillion on new highway projects. The four-year ambitious regional plan aims to rapidly transform the least developed regions through a fusion of central and state plans. Collaboration of central and state officials will award joint district-level rankings.
Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Odisha will get the lion share of the highway projects among these districts. Among the laggards are Gujarat, Telangana, Rajasthan and some northeastern states. According to data from MoRTH, all aspirational districts are already linked by highways, and the expansion will further boost economic activity in these areas. About 6,575km of national highways have been constructed in the past five years, connecting aspirational districts. Combined with ongoing and upcoming projects, the total length of the national highway network in these districts would expand to more than 18,000-km over the next five years. The aspirational districts program, with states as the main drivers, focuses on the strength of each district, identifying road stretches for immediate improvement and measuring their progress by ranking districts on a monthly basis.
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