Creation of next-gen infra Govt’s top priority: Prez

NEW DELHI, Jan 31:
Next-generation infrastructure right from highways to i-ways along with creation of a blue economy through innovative Sagarmala project and lighting the rural India have been on top of the government’s agenda, President Pranab Mukherjee said today.
Focus on infrastructure saw huge allocations that included highest-ever capital outlay of Rs 1.21 lakh crore towards modernisation of railways, identification of Rs 3 lakh crore for harnessing marine wealth under Sagarmala project and over Rs 2 lakh crore for gram panchayat developments, Mukherjee said addressing the joint sitting of Parliament.
“From highways to i-ways, from railways to waterways, from seaports to airports, from water pipelines to gas pipelines, from earth sciences to satellites, from rural infrastructure to smart cities, creation of vital next generation infrastructure has received special attention of my Government,” the President said.
Enunciating the work done towards infrastructure creation, Mukherjee said the government aims to connect all rural habitations with all-weather roads and has already built more than 73,000 kms of roads in rural areas.
“More than 5,000 kms of roads in 44 Left Wing Extremist affected districts are being upgraded,” he said.
Elaborating Government’s efforts to tap ocean wealth, the President emphasised, “My government is committed to optimally harness our marine wealth and give a new impetus to ocean-led development.”
Under the Sagarmala programme on port-led development, a total of 199 projects with an outlay of Rs 3 lakh crore have been identified for implementation in the next three years, he said.
Of these, projects of more than Rs 1 lakh crore are already under implementation.
The President said the seas surrounding the Indian Peninsula contain 1,382 islands, out of which to begin with, 26 have been earmarked for integrated development.
“The blue economy, with focus on sustainable development of fisheries will continue to receive our special attention,” he said.
About railways, he said the highest ever capacity outlay of Rs 1.21 lakh crore has been provided while the National Civil Aviation Policy will give a major boost to air connectivity in the smaller cities and towns.
Under the BharatNet Project, optical fibre cables now cover 75,700 gram panchayats, up from only 59 in May 2014, Mukherjee said.
On clean energy front, he said the government “has taken giant strides in increasing renewable energy capacity to 47 GW so far” against the target of 175 GW.
About rural infrastructure, he said untied financial resources of over Rs 2 lakh crore are being transferred to gram panchayats during 2015-20 and the allocation to Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in 2016-17 has been over Rs 47,000 crore which is the highest ever since the inception of the programme and the focus is now on creation of durable assets.
He said giving a major boost to creation of urban infrastructure, annual action plan for 500 cities with an outlay of Rs 50,000 crore has been approved.
Also metro rail projects have been sanctioned for four cities including Ahmedabad, Nagpur and Pune, and an extension of Chennai Metro has also been approved.
The President said that on communication front India has launched 8 operational missions covering meteorological, navigation, and earth observation and communication satellites.
ISRO completed the seven-satellite constellation of Indian Regional Navigational Satellite Systems, NaviC and added another feather to its cap this year by successfully launching 20 satellites in a highest-ever single launch.
He also emphasised that “Coal block and spectrum auctions illustrate the highest standards of transparency set by my Government in allocation of natural resources. To carry this forward, government procurements have been brought under a single platform – Government eMarket Place(GeM).” (PTI)