HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014

High-speed trains, low-cost airports on NDA priority list

HT Correspondents, Hindustan Times   June 09, 2014
First Published: 23:16 IST(9/6/2014) | Last Updated: 23:45 IST(9/6/2014)

Connecting India through road, rail, air and sea will figure high on the priorities of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government.

In his speech, President Pranab Mukherjee outlined a 'Diamond Quadrilateral' of high-speed trains, a 'Sagar Mala' project to connect ports to the hinterland and plans to develop low-cost airports in small towns. The government aims at realising these ambitious infrastructure plans over the next 10 years.

The Modi government is planning to revive the highway sector in a big way. The sector had come to a near standstill following the slowdown in economy and the previous UPA government's skewed policies. A total of 28 projects awarded by the UPA government since 2011 and worth around 30,000 crore have been terminated after developers walked out, citing delay in land acquisition and other regulatory clearances.

Outlining the vision of the new government in his address to the joint sitting of Parliament, President Pranab Mukherjee said that a faster, investment-friendly and predictable PPP mechanism would be put in place for modernising and revamping the railways. Lack of robust infrastructure is one of India's major impediments, he said.

The President's announcement comes as a big boost to votaries of bullet train plans, especially to the 70,000-crore high-speed corridor connecting Mumbai to Ahmedabad, which will be 543-km-long. "Financial and administrative sanction of this line will most likely figure in the next rail budget," ministry sources said.

Other plans include building a network of freight corridors with specialised 'agri-rail networks' for perishable agricultural goods and the expansion of railways in the hilly states and northeast regions.

With an aim of evolving a model of 'port-led development', the government intends to facilitate modernisation of ports along with the development of new world-class ports. "Stringing together the 'Sagar Mala' project, we will provide road and rail connectivity to the ports. Inland and coastal waterways will be developed as major transport routes", the President said.

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