New Delhi: To increase and facilitate trade with neighbouring countries, the main expressways will be linked with “International trade points”. Minister of Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari announced on Sunday that a scheme of 25000 crores has been planned for this purpose. Gadkari informed that under this project, 2000 kilometers of “highways” will be constructed and linked with the main expressways and “trade points”.
In October, the Central Ministry had approved a huge project of constructing 83,677 kilometers of expressways. This is to be done at a cost of 7 lakh crores. “Bharatmala”, an ambitious project worth 5 lakh 35 thousand crores is also a part of this same project. All states in the country will be connected by expressways through this project. Gadkari further said that the “highway corridors” and the 2000 kilometers of expressways connecting to the international “trade points” will all be part of the same ambitious project.
Gadkari informed that the decision to link the main expressways to the international “trade points” had been taken to increase and facilitate India’s trade with its neighbouring countries. It is being claimed that extending these expressways to the boundaries of neighbouring nations like Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh shall increase trade and transport between these nations.
So far, there is a Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) between India and Nepal and Bangladesh. As per this agreement, all kinds of vehicles along with passenger and goods transport vehicles will be allowed to ply between these three countries. Railways and waterway transport is also expected to commence between these three nations. This is considered an important step by India to increase its trade and influence among South Asian countries. It is clear that the decision to link the expressways under the “Bharatmala” project with “internationlal trade points” is another decision in the same phase.
Besides South Asian countries, India is also focused on increasing connectivity with South-East Asian and East Asian countries. In the recent past, post ASEAN Conference, India had announced a loan grant of 100 crore dollars to link the ASEAN nations by road, air and waterway transport. Moreover, to develop Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam into Production Hubs, India has announced a development fund of 7 crore 70 lakh dollars.
India is working on several other projects besides those mentioned above. After developing the Chabahar port in Iran, India has now opened a new option for its trade with Central Asian countries and Afghanistan while bypassing Pakistan. India is supporting Iran for connecting the Chabahar port with Afghanistan by railways and roads. Similary, the Chabahar port will soon open up the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) as well. This will open up goods transportation through waterways till Iran and further to that, through road and railway transport to Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. A recently published news item stated that goods transportation between India and St. Petersburg in Russia would soon commence via this route.
India and Japan together are developing the “Freedom Corridor”. Both countries are working together on several projects to develop strategically important ports, airports and basic infrastructure projects from Asia-Pacific region to Africa.