The Lok Sabha has unanimously passed Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The Bill seeks to amend the Central Road Fund (CRF) Act, 2000.
The CRF Act regulates Central Road Fund (CRF) into which cess levied and collected on high speed petrol and diesel is credited for development of national and state highways.
Central Road Fund (CRF)
CRF was established to fund development and maintenance of National Highways, State Highways and Rural roads by the Government. In order to mobilise the fund, the CRF Act has proposed to levy and collect cess on petrol and high speed diesel oil. The fund is utilised for development and maintenance of National highways, State Highways, Rural roads and also road overbridges, under bridges and other safety features at unmanned Railway Crossings.
Key Features of Bill
The Bill seeks to allocate share of this cess towards development of inland waterways. The Bill defines national waterways as those under National Waterways Act, 2016. Currently, 111 waterways are specified under this Act.
Utilization of fund: The Bill provides that in addition to utilization of this fund for various road projects, it will also be used for the development and maintenance of national waterways.
Power of central government: The Bill expands power of central government for administering the fund for the purpose of investment decisions for national waterways as well.
Allocation of cess: The Bill decreases allocation of cess towards development and maintenance of national highways from 41.5% to 39%. It allocates 2.5% of cess towards development and maintenance of national waterways.
National Waterways is cost effective, environment friendly and logistically efficient mode of transportation. Its development will serve as supplementary to existing transportation modes that will enable diversion of traffic from over-congested roads and railways.
The National Waterways Act, 2016 enacted by Parliament had increased total number of national waterways to 111 from earlier 5. In order to develop national waterways with modern infrastructure, sustainable source of funding is needed as a budgetary support as funds from multilateral institutions are inadequate. The Central Road Fund (CRF) arrangement will make available adequate and sustainable source of funding for NWs through institutional means.