Development of physical infrastructure took a centre stage in the Parliament when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented her maiden full-fledged budget. She has shed light on National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) worth Rs 103 lakh crore which will finance the infrastructure building. NIP will accommodate around 6500 projects across various sectors of the economy. NIP scheme aims to improve the ease of living for every citizen of the country and lead reforms in development, operations, and maintenance of infrastructure projects.
"In his Independence Day speech in 2019, the Prime Minister had highlighted that Rs 100 lakh crore would be invested on infrastructure over the next 5 years. As a follow-up measure, I have launched the NIP on December 31, 2019. It consists of more than 6500 projects across sectors and are classified as per their size and stage of development," she said.
She has assigned Rs 1.7 lakh crore in FY21 to better the transport infrastructure. Accelerated development of highways will be undertaken with 2,500 km access controlled highways and 9,000 km of economic corridor. There will be 2,000 km of strategic highway projects and port connectivity projects each. In addition, the minister said that Delhi-Mumbai Expressway and two other projects will be completed by 2023. 12 highway projects amounting to 6,000 kms will be monetised before 2021, she said.
Government aims to achieve electrification of 27,000 km of tracks. A proposal is under consideration for setting up a large solar powered capacity alongside rail tracks on land owned by railways. Railway transport infrastructure will be strengthened with 150 new passenger trains which will be acquired through Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. Government plans to introduce more Tejas type trains for popular tourist destinations. Four new station redevelopment projects were also envisaged.
A National Logistics Policy is to be released soon. Sighting the construction industry as an avenue for employment generation for the youth, the FM laid focus on National Skill Development Agency to give a boost to skill development opportunities in infrastructure related domain.
Setting up of a project preparation facility for infrastructure projects was also proposed. This programme would actively involve young engineers, management graduates, and economists from Indian universities and give a boost to the youth involved in the Start-up culture. The goal is to roll out value added services in quality public infrastructure.
The Government will consider corporatising at least one major port and plan its subsequent listing on the stock exchanges. There is a major focus on development of inland waterways under Jal Vikar Marg project. National Waterway 1, which runs from Haldia (West Bengal) to Prayagraj (Uttar Pradesh) across the Ganges, will be operational soon. Additionally, 890 km of Dhubri-Sadiya connectivity on River Brahmaputra in Assam will be done by 2022.
Furthermore, 100 more airports will be developed by 2024 to support the UDAN scheme and it is expected that the present air fleet number would get doubled, from 600 to 1200, in this time period.
While the objective was to boost the Indian economy on the back of infrastructure building, the Union Government has also covered social, cultural, and environmental need of the country comprehensively.