PM starts Rs 50,800-crore Setu Bharatam project
To make national highways railways crossing free by 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday launched ambitious Setu Bharatam project. While launching the project, Modi said, “India is set for a quantum leap in infrastructure and concerted efforts are being made to bolster growth in highways, I-ways and railways.”
Unveiling Rs 50,800-crore Setu Bharatam project to ensure highways without railway crossings and overhaul of 1,500 British-era bridges, the Prime Minister said his government is committed to speeding up all projects related to infrastructure.
“Our endeavour is for a quantum jump (in infrastructure), for a breakthrough, for fast-tracking projects. Infrastructure plays the same role for the nation as arteries play in a human body and thus, making it sound is quintessential,” Modi said at the launch.
Lauding Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari for “pioneering work” in infrastructure, Modi said infrastructure plays a pivotal role in the country’s growth and a comprehensive integrated approach has been initiated. He added that the government’s emphasis is not just on “highways, but on I-ways (Information ways) and railways”. Normally, governments are in the habit of doing incremental work only, but the approach of the current one is different, Modi asserted, adding that it is driven by long-term growth and is working to satisfy the long-felt aspirations of people.
Under the Setu Bharatam project, a total of 208 railway crossings will be replaced by rail over bridges (ROBs) by 2019 at an estimated cost of Rs 20,800 crore while 1,500 bridges of the British era will be overhauled at an estimated expenditure of Rs 30,000 crore across the country.
The Prime Minister said that for the first time all bridges in the country are being mapped, in an oblique reference to the previous administration for not having any such database in place. The Indian Bridge Management System has been introduced to map all 1,50,000 bridges in the country.
Modi, in his trademark style, added: “No body knows which bridge is where. Imagine how works were being done. I am not blaming any elected body for this or any Prime Minister or ministers. This is the flaw of the system. We didn’t accord priority to these things…” In a first, he said, gradation of bridges is being done through space technology with information like age, longitude, latitude, length, material and design.
Modi singled out the previous land acquisition system for highways, saying expansion of projects to two lanes and four lanes was not possible due to rampant encroachments, which were allowed with an eye on elections.