In October 2017, the Union Cabinet cleared the Bharatmala project to construct 20,000 km of highways connecting western and eastern parts of the country at an estimated cost of Rs 7 trillion (Rs 7 lakh crore). In the first phase to be undertaken over three-five years, the project would cost Rs 5.5 trillion (Rs 5.5 lakh crore).
The scheme would be funded through various sources, including Rs 2.09 trillion (Rs 2.09 lakh crore) from the market, Rs 1.06 trillion (Rs 1.06 lakh crore) through private investment, and Rs 2.19 trillion (Rs 2.19 lakh crore) from the central road fund or toll collection.
In March 2015, the Union Cabinet approved the Sagarmala project, which envisaged port-led development at the country's 12 major ports – Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore, V O Chidambaranar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip, and Kolkata (including Haldia) – as well as 1,208 islands identified for development.
Bharatmala is the largest highways project after the National Highway Development Programme (NHDP), which saw the development of about 50,000 km, with the aim of improving connectivity through four and six laning of national highways and border roads.
The Bharatmala project, which was first mooted in April 2015, aims to connect Gujarat and Rajasthan, then move to Punjab and cover Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, followed by Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Then, it would move further to Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and right up to the Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur and Mizoram.
The aim is to improve the speed of traffic flow on key corridors by providing uniform four-lane roads between two identified points.