Changes in JNNURM, capacity building in highways on the cards

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 25, 2014 15:06 IST

The NDA government is gearing up to initiate a major infrastructure development programme that will likely involve overhauling existing schemes such as the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) as well focus on capacity building in highways and waterways.

These new programmes will likely be announced in the new government's first budget to be presented on July 10.

The JNNURM, the UPA government's flagship urban modernisation programme, will be discontinued by the newly formed NDA government and relaunched in an altogether new avatar with a focus on creating 100 smart cities across India.

The government is also looking at changing India's policy on special economic zones (SEZ) - duty-free enclaves that primarily produce goods for exporting - and could be allowed to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).

Some of the existing SEZs will be subsumed within some proposed national investment and manufacturing zones (NIMZs).

Besides, the NIMZs will be developed as mega integrated industrial townships with state-of-the-art infrastructure that would have a combination of production units, public utilities, logistics, environmental protection facilities, residential areas, social infrastructure and administrative services.

The government is also likely to announce a Rs 25,000-crore effort to clean up the Ganges, a key aspect of which will be to harness economic benefits from tourism and river-transport facilities.

A third of India's 1.2-billion people live on the floodplains along the 2510-km sacred river. In its election manifesto, the BJP had promised to cleanse the Ganges as a "priority".

Although floating diyas, diving hermits and burning pyres on Varanasi's ghats are enduring images of the spiritual role that the Ganges plays, it is dying a slow death due to filth, untreated sewage and industrial run-off, which have soiled its waters for years. At present, only about 45% of the 11 billion litres of sewage from 181 towns along the Ganges and its tributaries is treated.

The government is likely to "dovetail" the programme into making India's five "national waterways" navigable for movement of people and goods, besides helping development of cities and towns along the banks.

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