Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of infrastructure sectors, including roads, railways, airports, digital ports and coal, calling for a consolidated approach to complete existing projects within stipulated timelines.
The meeting, attended by top officials from PMO, NITI Ayog and all infrastructure ministries of the Government of India, lasted about four-and-a-half hours.
Assessing the work done in the road sector, it was mentioned in the meeting that under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, the highest-ever average construction rate of 130 km a day had been achieved for rural roads. This had led to an addition of 47,400 km of roads under PMGSY in 2016-17. As many as 11,641 additional habitations had been connected with roads in the same period.
Apart from this, over 4000 km of rural roads had been constructed using green technology in FY17. The use of non-conventional materials such as waste plastic, cold mix, geo-textiles, fly ash, iron and copper slag was being pushed aggressively.
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- The Prime Minister directed that the construction of rural roads be carried out efficiently and their quality be efficiently monitored. For this, he emphasised on the use of space technology in addition to the technologies already being used, such as the "Meri Sadak" App. He called for speedy completion of vital links that will connect the remaining unconnected areas at the soonest.
- Modi directed that new technologies be used in road construction also. He asked NITI Aayog to examine global standards in the application of technology for infrastructure creation and how feasible implementing the same in India was.
- In the highways sector, over 26,000 km of 4 or 6-lane national highways have been built in FY17, and the pace is improving.
- In the railways sector, new lines covering a distance of 953 km were laid in 2016-17, as against the target of 400 km. Track electrification of over 2000 km, and gauge conversion of over 1000 km was achieved in the same period.
- More than 1,500 unmanned level crossings have been eliminated in 2016-17. Among the steps taken to enhance customer experience, Wi-Fi access was enabled in 115 railway stations, and 34,000 bio-toilets added.
- The Prime Minister called for expediting work related to redevelopment of railway stations and greater creativity in the generation of non-fare revenue.
- The progress of important projects in the roads and railways sectors, such as the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, Char Dham Project, the Quazigund-Banihal Tunnel, the Chenab railway bridge, and the Jiribam-Imphal project was also reviewed.
- In the aviation sector, the Regional Connectivity Scheme will connect 43 destinations, including 31 unserved destinations. The passenger capacity in the aviation sector has reached 282 million passengers per annum.
- In the ports sector, under the Sagarmala project, 415 projects have been identified with an investment of Rs. 8 lakh crore, and projects worth Rs 1.37 lakh crore have been taken up for implementation. The Prime Minister stressed on better outcomes for turnaround time of ships and clearance for Exim cargo.
- In the digital infrastructure sector, as many as 2,187 mobile towers have been installed in districts affected by left-wing extremists in 2016-17. The progress of the National Optical Fibre Network was also reviewed in the meeting.
- The Prime Minister emphasized that the emerging digital connectivity network, which will connect thousands of Gram Panchayats within the next few months, should be implemented effectively so that it can lead to a better quality of life and greater empowerment of people in the rural areas.
- In the coal sector, rationalisation of coal linkages and movement yielded an annual saving of over Rs 2,500 crore in 2016-17. Noting the decline in coal imports in the last year, the Prime Minister asked for even more vigorous efforts towards coal import substitution, and application of new coal technologies including gasification technology.