From building coastal expressways as part of a plan to upgrade the road and rail network to ensure that a person can reach any point in the country within 24 hours, to boosting labour reforms so that workers are employed for “fixed terms” instead of on contract; from new legislation on conflict of interest to adding a health knowledge institute to every district hospital — a 17-point people-oriented agenda has been sent by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his ministries.
While Modi’s wishlist was sent on July 10, all the ministries were told to submit detailed action plans, with sharp focus on delivery and implementation, by July 20 so as to put the agenda in place when the NDA government completes its first 100 days in office in August-end.
Laying stress on connectivity and power with “service goals” set to improve transportation within the country, it proposes a network of coastal expressways on the east and west coasts, connected to each other through latitude expressways (to be called Akshansh Marg Expressways) at 13 degrees, 15 degrees and 17 degrees.
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Another plan is to build a Kanha-Krishna corridor, from Madhya Pradesh to Andhra Pradesh, which would combine highways and the rail network as well as oil and gas pipelines.
It also envisages Metro Rail and BRT systems in towns and cities to enable an urban citizen to travel from one point to another in less than an hour at “a reasonable price”.
Besides inland connectivity, Modi’s vision includes construction of a world-class port on either side of the peninsula to take advantage of the country’s long shoreline. “At least two ports, one on the east coast and one on the west coast, should be capable to handle the largest container ships plying on global routes,” says the list sent by the Cabinet Secretariat.
As part of the plan to improve connectivity, it has been proposed that all long distance calls within the country should be priced the “same as local calls for every citizen”.
The agenda also talks of decentralised mini grids in towns and cities that would be operated by private vendors or cooperatives, as well as plans for village-level mini grids. Nagpur has been identified as the logistics distribution hub and electricity distribution hub.
In a boost to labour reforms, there is a proposal to ensure appointment of workers on “fixed term basis as against contract basis” with an additional item proposing that “Factories Act should not be applicable to small industries”.
Modi’s agenda also aims at curbing black money usage by mandating PAN or UID numbers in “all financial transactions, including all immovable property transactions” and e-tendering of all government contracts. There are also additional curbs for public servants and representatives.
There is a recommendation to introduce a law on the lines of Sections 297-301 of the Companies Act, mandating disclosure of interest by elected representatives and civil servants.
Health reforms get a fair share of attention with the proposed deployment of male community health workers (Ashok) on the lines of the female Asha, a district health knowledge institute attached to every upgraded district hospital and a three-year B.Sc course in community health.
And to top it all, the wishlist pledges a Public Service Delivery Guarantee to achieve the action plan.