Budget 2019: Plans for connecting India better

The 2019 Budget presentation focused extensively on the need for better transportation and connectivity between urban and rural areas. Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman discussed some initiatives taken up by the government to enable transport development.

Incentives:

Based on National Common Mobility Card standards, India’s first indigenously developed inter-operable transport card was launched in March 2019 to make travel across various modes convenient.

Connectivity:

The finance minister said that initiatives such as Industrial Corridors, Dedicated Freight Corridors, Bhartamala, Sagarmala, Jal Marg Vikas and UDAN, will improve logistics, reduce the cost of transportation and increase the competitiveness of domestically produced goods.

She stated that the government would carry out a comprehensive restructuring of the National Highway Programme to ensure that the National Highway Grid is of a desirable length and the capacity is created using a financeable model. She said that after completing Phase 1 of Bharatmala, states would be helped to develop state road networks in the second phase.

The finance minister said that in order to take the connectivity infrastructure to the next level, the government would make a blueprint available this year for developing gas grids, water grids, i-ways, and regional airports. This is based on the successful 'One Nation, One Grid' model that has ensured power connectivity to states at affordable rates.

 

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Waterways:

Sitharaman said that the government had a vision to use rivers for cargo transportation. She mentioned the Jal Marg Vikas Project to enhance the navigational capacity of the Ganga and said that two multi-modal terminals in Sahibganj and Haldia and a navigational lock in Farrakka would be completed this year.

This would make the movement of freight and passengers cheaper and reduce the import bill.

The finance minister said that the movement of a volume of cargo on the Ganga is estimated to increase by nearly four times in the next four years.

Aviation sector:

The minister said that the government would implement the essential elements of a regulatory roadmap to make India a hub for aircraft financing and leasing activities. This initiative is important to leverage the business opportunities available in India’s financial Special Economic Zones and the International Financial Services Centre. This is also critical to the development of a self-reliant aviation industry that creates aspirational jobs in aviation finance.

She said that the government would adopt suitable policy interventions to create a congenial atmosphere for the development of the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul industry in the country.

Railways:

The Budget has proposed using public-private partnerships to unleash faster development and completion of tracks, rolling stock manufacturing and delivery of passenger freight services for the Railways Department.

An investment of Rs. 50 lakh crore is required for railway infrastructure during 2018-2030.

 
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