Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In a bid to bring the various strands of India's infrastructure development on a common path, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the PM GatiShakti - National Master Plan for multi-modal connectivity.
Launched on October 13, the plan envisages a centralised portal comprising all existing and planned infrastructure initiatives of as many as 16 central ministries and departments. As a result, every department will now have visibility of each other’s activities, providing critical data while planning and executing projects in a comprehensive manner.
"We are laying the foundation for the next 25 years of India's development. The National Master Plan will give speed and direction to 21st century India. The people of India - entrepreneurs, industrialists, manufacturers, farmers and youth are at the center of this mega initiative," Modi said.
As a result of better planning, the entire process of infrastructure creation is expected to be streamlined beginning from land aquisition to implementation, connections between local, state and national level government bodies and corporates, he added.
The Prime Minister had initially announced Gatishakti in his speech from the Red Fort on the 75th Independence Day. Arguing that infrastructure creation in India had suffered for decades from multiple issues, the Modi government has been pointing to a major lack of coordination between different departments as a prime reason.
"Different infra departments and states work in silos, and hence planning is affected. As a result, the projects which were supposed to help grow India's economy have instead become barriers to progress because of lack of coordination," Modi said.
"Historically, we have experienced many shortcoming with infrastructure planning in India. Different departments do their own planning, but there has been no holistic approach. We have seen how a road is newly constructed, and then the waterworks people will come and dig the road to lay a pipeline," the PM said, citing a common example.
Saying that the lack of synchronization had been deeply entrenched, Modi said while the Road Department sets up a divider on a busy highway, the Traffic Police later comes in and dismantles it saying it is unplanned.
Major changes ahead
These issues are now expected to change, with fibre optic connections, power lines, sewer works and new gas lines, being laid, in tandem with new road constructions. Similarly, the development of new ports from now on, will include the participation of other ministries such as Rail and Road.
The portal will also map the need for roads across the country, reduce logistics costs and pinpoint challenges in connectivity. The plan is the next step after government efforts to address other issues like time-taking approval process, the multiplicity of regulatory clearances etc.
"We have brought a work culture of finishing projects on time, in fact we are now aiming to complete before time. The world is looking at India as we are trying to take steps to implement projects efficiently and before time," Modi stressed.
Going forward, PM Gatishakti will address the past issues through institutionalizing holistic planning for stakeholders for major infrastructure projects. Instead of planning & designing separately in silos, infra projects are now expected to be designed and executed with a common vision. They will incorporate the infrastructure schemes of various ministries and state Governments like Bharatmala, Sagarmala, inland waterways, dry/land ports, UDAN, among others.
Economic Zones like textile clusters, pharmaceutical clusters, defence corridors, electronic parks, industrial corridors, fishing clusters, agri zones will also be covered to improve connectivity & make Indian businesses more competitive.
Citing India's overall high logistics cost, estimated at a steep 13 percent of GDP, Modi said unplanned development had left ports without rail lines, manufacturing hinterland without access to coasts and farmers without recourse to markets. As a result, the cost of production goes up and India's export competitiveness goes up, while food inflation rises," Modi said.
The plan will also leverage technology extensively including spatial planning tools with ISRO imagery developed by BiSAG-N (Bhaskaracharya National Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics).
At the launch event, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal had said the latest initiative will not only give infrastructure creation a new direction but also provide a new pace to existing projects.
The Prime Minister said in the 5 years before 2014, only 1900 km of railway lines underwent doubling. In the last 7 years, more than 9 thousand kilometres of railway lines have been doubled. In the 5 years before 2014, only 3000 km of railways were electrified. In the last 7 years, more than 24000 kilometres of railway tracks have been electrified, Shri Modi informed.
Modi added that before 2014, the metro rail was running on only about 250 km of track. Today the metro has been expanded up to 700 km and work is going on in the 1000 km new metro route. In the five years before 2014, only 60 panchayats could be connected with optical fibre. In the last 7 years, we have connected more than 1.5 lakh gram panchayats with optical fibre.
Corporates laud plan
"The elements of making infra more effective is a step up in infra investments, that has been aimed by the national infrastructure pipeline, easier connectivity between air, road, rail and waterways, including seamless multi modal connectivity, and a master plan with 360 degree visibility. That is what PM Gatishakti is all about," Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman of Aditya Birla Group said.
This will greatly add to manufacturing competitiveness in the country as logistics charges go down while a major boost to employment, especially in rural areas will emerge, CEO & MD Tata Steel Limited TV Narendran said.
"The National Master plan ties in well with the PM's vision for agri. Logistics, even at the stage of the primary produce, is a significant portion of the cost of produce. The primary processed market is set to rise from 200 billion to over 500 billion, but only 10-15 percent of produce goes towards higher value added processing," Mallika Srinivasan - Chairman & Managing Director of Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited (TAFE) said.