Launching a Rs 50,800-crore project to replace all railway crossings with rail over bridges by 2019, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his government is committed to speeding up all projects related to infrastructure.
“Our endeavour is for a quantum jump (in infrastructure), for a breakthrough, for fast-tracking projects. Infrastructure plays the same role for the nation as arteries play in a human body and thus, making it sound is quintessential,” Modi said at the launch of the Setu Bharatam.
Modi said infrastructure plays a pivotal role in the country’s growth and a “comprehensive integrated approach” has been initiated. He added that the government’s emphasis is not just on “highways, but on I-ways (Information ways) and railways”.
Under the Setu Bharatam project, a total of 208 railway crossings will be replaced by rail over bridges (ROBs) by 2019 at an estimated cost of Rs 20,800 crore while 1,500 bridges of the British era will be overhauled at an estimated expenditure of Rs 30,000 crore across the country. The Prime Minister said that for the first time all bridges in the country are being mapped. The Indian Bridge Management System has been introduced to map all 1,50,000 bridges in the country.
In a first, he said, gradation of bridges is being done through space technology with information like age, longitude, latitude, length, material and design.
Modi singled out the previous land acquisition system for highways, saying expansion of projects to two lanes and four lanes was not possible due to rampant encroachments, which were allowed with an eye on elections. “Road length was not increasing due to encroachments. Now, we are acquiring land in such a fashion that there are enough provisions for expansion in between. Small things matter,” Modi said.
He also took jibes at the lengthy “exchange of letters” between ministries of highways and railways in the previous government for any rail or road bridge.
“Railways and road exchanged so much papers that at times it was felt that all papers could construct a monument bridge,” he said, in a lighter vein. The government is also working on plans to provide basic facilities like rest rooms at a gap of 20-25 km, besides ensuring rural people sell their produce at centres near highways. It’s laying special emphasis on constructing rural roads under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna besides augmenting the existing rail and digital fibre network, agriculture infrastructure, electricity and grid connectivity.
He spoke of “massive reforms” in the Railways, “unlike in the past when new train announcements were done regularly to please particular parliamentarians”. “There are a number of such announcements which could not be translated into reality,” Modi said. He also underscored the need for research by young engineers and architects in the field of bridges.
With inputs from PTI