New Delhi: Terming infrastructure as the growth driver of the economy, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today announced an allocation of Rs 5.97 lakh crore for 2018-19 for infra spending, up by over Rs 1 lakh crore from the ongoing fiscal.
Presenting the Union Budget 2018-19 in Parliament, Jaitley said the priority accorded to the sector was evident from the fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is personally monitoring infrastructure project targets and achievements.
“Infrastructure is the growth driver of the economy. Our country needs massive investment in excess of Rs 50 lakh crore in infrastructure to increase the growth of GDP and integrate the nation with a network of roads, airports, railways, inland water and to provide good quality services to the people,” the finance minister said.
In order to create employment and aid growth, the government has increased budgetary and extra-budgetary expenditure on infrastructure for 2018-19 to Rs 5.97 lakh crore from Rs 4.94 lakh crore in 2017-18, he said.
Jaitley said, “The Prime Minister personally reviews the target and achievements in infrastructure sector on a regular basis. Using online monitoring system of Pragati alone, projects worth Rs 9.46 lakh crore have been facilitated and fast-tracked.”
Asserting that the government has laid an all-time high allocation for railway and road sectors, the finance minister said that the government is committed to further augmenting the infrastructure.
National Highways exceeding 9,000 km will be completed in 2018-19, he said and highlighted that Bharatmala scheme which has been approved for providing seamless connectivity to the interior and backward areas and borders of the country. Under the phase-I of the project, 35,000 km of highways would be constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 5.35 lakh crore.
He also said NHAI will consider organising road assets into SPV.
For Indian Railways, he said the government has allocated capital expenditure of Rs 1,48,528 crore for 2018-19, and all trains will soon have state-of-the-art facilities such as WiFi and CCTV.
“To secure India’s defence, we are developing connectivity infrastructure in the border areas,” he said, adding that Rohtang tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity while the contract for the construction of the Zojila pass tunnel of more than 14 km is progressing well.
“I propose to take up the construction of a tunnel under the Sela pass,” he said adding that the government was also focusing on seaplanes.
“For promoting tourism and emergency medical care, the government will make a necessary framework for investment in the seaplane activities,” he said.
The FM also underlined that urbanisation is opportunity and priority and said that the government has already launched Smart City mission that aims at creating state-of-the-art amenities.
“Ninety-nine cities have been selected at an outlay of Rs 2.04 lakh crore. These cities have started implementing various projects like smart roads, solar roof, intelligent transport system. Projects worth Rs 2,350 crore have been completed and work of Rs 20,850 crore has been under progress,” Jaitley said adding that heritage cities will be preserved and revitalised.
He also said the government will develop 10 tourist destinations to attract more visitors.