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Budget 2020: Nirmala Sitharaman bets big on infrastructure development, allocates Rs 1.70 lakh cr for transport infra

Mumbai: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in order to augment India’s infrastructure and create jobs, has launched Rs 103 lakh crore infrastructure projects besides providing about Rs 1.70 lakh crore for transport infrastructure and accelerating highways construction. She hopes 12 lots of highway bundles would be monetized by 2024.

Laying focus on infrastructure and economic development, FM said 6,500 projects across sectors under National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) envisions ease of living for citizens.A bout Rs 22,000 crore has already been provided, as support to Infrastructure Pipeline, she added.

Sitharaman announced that accelerated development of highways will be undertaken which will include development of 2,500-km access control highways, 9,000-km of economic corridors, 2,000-km of coastal and land port roads and 2,000-km of strategic highways. Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and two other packages would be completed by 2023 and work on Chennai-Bengaluru Expressway would also be started. She said under electronic tolling on national highways, FASTag mechanism enables greater commercialization of highways so that NHAI can raise more resources.

Union Minister of Transport Nitin Gadkari observed that FM's announcement on NIP has given a massive boost to investment in infrastructure, which in turn would help revive industrial production and generate employment opportunities, crating more that 2 crore jobs.

In addition, she has proposed setting up of 100 airports by 2024 to support the UDAN scheme and more Tejas like trains to be introduced.

She said large solar power capacity will be set up alongside rail tracks, on land owned by Railways. Fibre to Home connections under Bharat Net will be provided to 1 lakh gram panchayats this year itself, 6000 crore rupees provided for Bharat Net.

Power & Oil & Gas Sector

FM has earmarked Rs 22,000 crore for power and renewable sector She has called upon the distribution companies in the states and union territories to replace existing conventional electricity meters with pre paid smart ones in the next three years and give option to consumers to choose electricity suppliers. This aims to revive demand in the Indian power sector.

She further said that further measures to provide relief to distribution companies (DISCOMs) will be taken by the government.

FM's proposal is crucial when the aggregate transmission and commercial (AT&C) losses in the country are 21.4%. The ministry of power has asked the states to reduce AT&C losses to less than 10% in urban areas and 15% in rural areas.

Discoms has been the weakest links in the electricity value chain. Power distribution companies in the country suffered losses worth Rs 27,000 crore in 2018-19 and because of it they are under severe financial stress. The discoms were facing issues related to purchase of power, maintenance and others. Power Ministry has assured help to states to make discoms viable by reducing their losses.

FM has extended 15% concessional tax rate extended to power sector. PwC Leader M&A Tax said,'' The reduction in taxes should act as a catalyst for investment in the power sector. This can provide much needed relief and the foreign investors may look at the sector from positive lens.''

Further, FM has announced expansion of National Gas Grid from 16,200 kms to 27,000 kms.

Also Read: Budget 2020: Nirmala Sitharaman announces 16 action points to boost farm growth, earmarks Rs 2.83 lakh crore