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Budget 2018 continues infrastructure push; a whopping 50% increase in allocation to 5.97 lakh crore

Budget 2018: The last full Budget of the present government continued with its effort to boost the infrastructure sector this year too by allocating a whopping 50% increase in the Budgetary allocation to Rs 5.97 lakh crore from Rs 3.96 lakh crore last fiscal year.

Arun Jaitley estimated that “investment in excess of Rs 50 lakh crore is needed to increase the growth of the GDP and to connect the nation with a network of roads, airports, railways, ports and inland waterways”. Of this, Rs 5.97 lakh crore, the government made an all-time high allocation to railway of Rs 1.49 lakh crore, up from previous fiscal year’s Rs 1.31 lakh crore.

The Budget 2018 proposed to develop ten prominent tourist sites into Iconic Tourism destinations involving infrastructure and skill development, along with 12,000 wagons, 5,160 coaches, and approximately 700 locomotives set to be procured next fiscal.

Arun Jaitley also announced a 90-kilometre-long of double line tracks at a cost of over Rs 11,000 crore and a plan of 150 kilometres of an additional suburban network at a cost of over Rs 40,000 crore, including elevated corridors in some sections. He also announced an investment of Rs 14.34 lakh crore on rural infrastructure through Budgetary and non-Budgetary allocation.

The government has been giving a strong impetus to the development of all areas of infrastructure be it roads and highways, railways, airports as well as waterways, but also has a big task of addressing concerns relating to private investments in Public Private Partnership Projects. The Bharatmala road project worth Rs 5.35 lakh crore, launched in the fiscal year 2017-2018, will require Rs 1.05 lakh crore of the investments from private players in coming years.

Last year Arun Jaitley gave a massive push to infrastructure by allocating Rs 3.96 lakh crore and unveiled largest-ever rail budget of Rs 1.31 lakh crore, an increase of 8.26% from 2016’s Rs 1.21 lakh crore. This was the second time when the rail budget was announced with the general budget in 93 years.

“India has one of the largest road networks of over 56.17 lakh kilometre comprising National Highways, Expressways, State Highways, Major District Roads, Other District Roads and Village Roads… In case of inland freight transport, road share is more than railways and other modes of transportation in India, as compared to Russia, China and USA,” the economic survey report said earlier this week.

Top infrastructure projects launched by the government currently in the pipeline are Rs 12 lakh crore Sagarmala project and Rs 5.35 lakh crore Bharatmala Project. The Bullet train project launched in partnership with Japan will require an investment worth Rs 1.1 lakh crore by 2022.