The government has decided to invest more than Rs 100 lakh crore on building modern infrastructure in the country with a special emphasis on connectivity, President Ram Nath Kovind said on Friday.
In a bid to improve connectivity, the government will also focus on creation of new highways, waterways, airways and I-ways (IT infrastructure), the President said addressing the joint sitting of both houses of Parliament, on the first day of the Budget session here.
"The poor and the middle-class hope and aspire for a modern 21st century infrastructure in the country. To fulfil this aspiration of the people more than Rs 100 lakh crore will be invested in the next five years. With a special emphasis on connectivity, the government is also focusing on creation of new highways, new waterways, new airways, and new I-ways," the President said.
Rapid progress is being made towards providing better public transport facilities in urban areas, Kovind said adding, metro facility has now been extended to 18 cities in the country.
So far, 670-km of metro lines have been operationalised, and work on another 930-km is underway, he said and added the residents of Delhi and NCR have greatly benefitted from the construction of Delhi-Meerut Expressway, as well as from Eastern and Western Peripheral Expressways.
He further said inland waterways are also being developed by the government and in December 2019, for the first time, container cargo reached Pandu in Assam via National Water Way-2.
Under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, the multi-modal terminal at Haldia on River Ganga and the navigation lock at Farakka will be completed this year, Kovind said adding, it is also our endeavour to operate large transport cargo vessels on River Ganga by next year.
On air connectivity, he said about 35 lakh people have so far travelled by air under the UDAN scheme and last year, 335 new air routes have been approved.
Rural roads contributed significantly to the country's infrastructure, he said and added 1.25 lakh kilometers road will be constructed and upgraded under Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna.
Rural roads have now been expanded to every corner of the country through the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana, he said adding third phase of the programme has been launched to strengthen rural roads and connect them to schools, hospitals and agricultural markets.
On Noth East connectivity he said: "More than the physical distance of the North East from Delhi, it was the emotional disconnect that disheartened the people of the region. My Government has transformed this situation by working tirelessly during the last five years. Work is being done at an unprecedented pace in the North East to enhance connectivity, strengthen infrastructure and make people's lives easier."
As a result of the government's efforts, he said by 2022, the capitals of Sikkim, Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland will be connected with the rail network.
"The work on Agartala-Akhaura rail link is also progressing at a fast pace. In the year 2022, the construction of the new airport being built at 'Holongi' in Arunachal Pradesh will also be completed," he added.
The President said, during the last few years, there has been extraordinary development of infrastructure related to tourism.
"Recently a nationwide programme has been launched from Kolkata for conservation and beautification of the heritage buildings of the country. The tourism sector is also being strengthened by the modern infrastructure being developed under Swadesh Darshan and PRASAD schemes. New records are being created every day in the number of tourists visiting the ‘Statue of Unity', the statue of Sardar Patel; which is the tallest in the world," he emphasised.
Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) is a government scheme that focuses on identifying and developing the pilgrim sites across the country.