Modi govt infra-development push: You must know Nitin Gadkari, the Highway-Building Man of India. Yes, who holds the portfolio of Union Minister for Road and Transport? He has definitely contributed a lot towards India’s revamp, or, I should say, building infrastructure in India. But under whose authority? Under the Prime Minister of India, who while running for the post advocated for the infamous ‘Gujarat Model,” Wide roads in good condition and expressways used to be the ‘hero product’ of this Gujarat model. The same way, it was launched for the whole of India. Almost after 60 years of independence, Indians witnessed a government dedicated towards infrastructure growth. As they know, better roads give you better connectivity, and better connectivity brings you a flourishing economy—something that India desperately needed back in 2014.
PM Modi’s never seen before push for infra-development
India, a country known for its diverse culture and traditions, is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. And, it was only possible through Narendra Modi’s model that India could surpass its former colonizer in being the 5th biggest economy in the world. With a population of over 1.3 billion people, India requires a robust infrastructure system to support its economic and social growth, and this was well understood by PM Narendra Modi and his government.
After taking charge as Prime Minister in 2014, Narendra Modi promised to develop India’s infrastructure to accelerate the country’s progress, which included development of not only roads and railways but other infrastructure too, at a much higher rate than the previous governments.
Development of urban infrastructure with swanky expressways, railways, and airports
The average construction of national highways has nearly doubled since the NDA government took office in 2014. Similarly, only 600 km of railway track was electrified per year before 2014, whereas it is now reaching 4000 km per year. Airports and seaport capacity have also been doubled.
The Modi government has given significant importance to the development of roads in India. In terms of road development, the Modi government prioritized not only roads in urban areas and metropolitan cities, but also roads in rural areas. One of the programs to achieve this is the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), a flagship scheme launched by the government in 2000 to provide all-weather road connectivity to rural areas. While it was flagged off during former Prime Minister Atal Vihari’s term, the Congress had put that in the back seat.
Under the Modi government, the PMGSY scheme has been accelerated, and more than 1.8 lakh km of roads have been constructed between 2014 and 2021.
The government also launched the Bharatmala Pariyojana, a mega-infrastructure project aimed at developing 34,800 km of highways across the country. The project is expected to create employment opportunities, reduce the cost of logistics for businesses, and reduce travel time. Prime Minister Modi has himself inaugurated many road belts, expressways, and bridges that not only make daily travel and business easier but also integrate much of India into mainstream life, for instance in the North-East. Taking all-weather roads to the seven sisters and integrating them into the mainland was a task in itself due to geographical barriers.
Now, let’s understand what I just said in terms of numbers.
Under the NDA rule
Under UPA rule
Basically, under the UPA regime, the construction speed of roads was 11.7 KM per day, which has grown to 29 KM per day under the Narendra Modi government. The same goes for railroads.
India has one of the largest railway networks in the world, but it was in dire need of modernization and upgradation when PM Modi stepped into the top chair, and the Modi government has taken several steps to develop the railway infrastructure in the country.
The government launched the Pradhan Mantri Rail Vikas Yojana (PMRVY) in 2015 with an allocation of Rs. 1 lakh crore to modernize railway infrastructure. The government also launched several new trains, including the Vande Bharat Express, a semi-high-speed train that runs between Delhi and Varanasi and now on other routes too, but often faces stone-pelting. The government also approved the construction of several new railway lines, including the bullet train project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
Now, here you would again ask me, “Has this also increased?” I would say I told you this in the beginning of the video itself, and one thing more, under PM Modi’s regime, railway freight capacity has increased from 1418 MT to 1000 MT during the UPA rule.
Under the Bharatmala project, 66,100km of roads are being built in a phased manner.It has a special category called National Corridor Efficiency Improvement, under which 13,100 km of roads are being constructed. The project also focuses on port connectivity, an economic corridor, border roads, and the Greenfield Expressway, among others.
While Bharatmala is used to improve road efficiency, SAGARMALA is the name given to the Modi government’s push for the magic to be imparted in Indian waterways.Under SAGARMALA, 7,517 km of coastline and 14,500 km of potentially navigable waterways are being modernized, mechanized, and computerized. The final aim of the project is to boost merchandise exports from India to $110 billion by 2025. The program has been quite successful by now, and PM Modi too pointed out that the average turnaround time for ships from Indian ports has been reduced to 26 hours from 44.
Airports and Heliports Development:
In February of this year, PM Modi unveiled the country’s largest choppers manufacturing facility — in Tumakuru district of Karnataka, thus taking the dream of Make in India forward. This indicates that India can meet its defense demands without importing anything by relying on itself.
Now, let’s look at some numbers. Due to an increase in the number of airports, the domestic air passenger movement has touched a toll of 4.45 lakhs. In recent years, India has witnessed a double-digit compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.5% in terms of domestic passenger traffic during the period 2014–15 to 2019–20. During 2020–21 and 2021–22, there was a dip in domestic air traffic due to the impact of the COVID–19 pandemic. Domestic air traffic has again picked up pace during the current financial year (2022–2023) and is expected to reach around 97% of the pre-covid level.
This was only made possible by an increase in the number of airports and heliports, which was supplemented by schemes such as UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik), which was launched during the NDA regime.Further, the government is proactively supporting the aviation sector by providing a stable policy environment and incentivizing competition-led growth.
Gati Shakti Program
To integrate various means of transportation under one umbrella, the Modi government launched the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan (PMGS-NMP) in October 2021. Gati Shakti has subsumed Rs 110 lakh crore of the National Infrastructure Pipeline. Moreover, the scheme envisages building 11 industrial corridors, 2 defense corridors, 200 new airports, heliports, water aerodromes, and 2 lakh kilometers of national highway. This massive infrastructure spending has borne fruit as well.
Infrastructure push and the results:
Apart from road and railway development, the Modi government has also taken significant steps to develop other infrastructure sectors in the country. The government launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014, a campaign aimed at improving sanitation and cleanliness in the country, or the Ujjwala scheme, whose second phase has recently been launched. The government also launched the Smart Cities Mission in 2015 with the aim of developing 100 smart cities across the country. The government has also focused on developing renewable energy sources, and India has become one of the leading countries in solar energy production.
Now, you might ask why this is important. It is important because programs like these help in the holistic development of the nation.
Impact of the Modi Government’s Infrastructure Development
The infrastructure development initiatives taken by the Modi government have had a significant impact on India’s economy and society. The construction of new roads and highways has reduced the transportation cost of goods and services, benefiting businesses and consumers alike. The development of railway infrastructure has led to the modernization of the railway system, improving the safety and comfort of passengers. The development of the infrastructure has also created employment opportunities, especially in the construction and transportation sectors. And to enhance all these, the Modi government recently brought in the National Logistics Policy, which should have been introduced in the initial years of independence. But we lost many years and at least two cycles of the demographic dividend advantage. The policy proposes the creation of integrated digital logistic systems. The single window system will integrate 30 systems belonging to 7 different ministries, namely, road transport, railways, customs, aviation, foreign trade, and commerce. Now, you can guess the impact it’s going to make.
Development: Challenges Facing the Modi Government
What you just heard was not an easy process, but Narendra Modi and the Union government have resolved to stick to the mantra of “minimal government, maximum governance.” Now, all is not done yet. Often, the states being governed by opposition parties become a hurdle in imparting development, be it CM Mamata Banerjee from West Bengal or CM Naveen Patnaik from Odisha. At many places, the funds allocated by the center remain unused, while at others, the state governments are busy running their own schemes with no attention paid to the central schemes. Also, be it the construction of roads, highways, or railways, all have faced several challenges, including delays in land acquisition and environmental clearances.
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