Infra gets bumper 3.96 lakh crore

Pace of construction under PMGSY now 133-km per day

Infra gets bumper  3.96 lakh crore
Allocating the lion’s share of Rs 3.96 lakh crore for infrastructure development and terming the sector the top priority of the government, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said the magnitude of investment in the field is bound to spur growth.

Terming railways, roads and rivers the “lifeline” of the country, the finance minister, while presenting the Budget for 2017-18, said, “Total allocation for infrastructure stands at a record level (of) Rs 3,96,135 crore.” The allocation for infrastructure in 2016-17 budgetary estimate was Rs 3,48,952 crore, which was revised to Rs 3,58,634 crore.

“This magnitude of investment will spur a huge amount of economic activity across the country and create more job opportunities,” he said. Jaitley said infrastructure was the thrust area of the government for efficiency, productivity and quality of life.
Jaitley also said the World Bank is optimistic about India’s prospects and has projected a GDP growth of 7% in 2016-17, 7.6% in 2017-18 and 7.8% in 2018-19. “...this pick up in our economy is premised upon our policy and determination to continue with economic reforms, increase in public investment in infrastructure and development projects,” he said.

The finance minister said that for transportation sector as a whole – including rail, roads, shipping– a provision of Rs 2,41,387 crore has been made. In the road sector, Rs 67,000 crore has been allocated for the national highways in 2017-18, as compared to Rs 57,676 crore in 2016-17. Also, 2,000-km of coastal connectivity roads will be constructed, he said.

In addition, Rs 19,000 crore has been earmarked for the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) to connect far flung habitats, which, along with the investment from the state governments, may result in a total expenditure of Rs 27,000 crore. The minister said the pace of road construction was 133-km per day under the PMGSY in 2016-17, as compared to 73-km during 2011-14.

Aviation gets 22% hike
The civil aviation ministry on Wednesday received a substantial increase of over 22% in budgetary allocation and was provided Rs 5,167.60 crore for the next financial year. The finance minister allocated a good chunk of the total amount to Air India, which will get Rs 1,800 crore.

The amount will be extended to the national carrier as part of the bailout package announced by the then UPA government in 2012. Besides this, the company will be given Rs 508 crore as part of an investment in public enterprises. National airports operator Airports Authority of India has been allocated Rs 2,543 crore, apart from a budgetary support of Rs 100 crore.

The budgetary funds for aviation-watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation has been stepped up to Rs 230.56 crore for 2017-18. The amount allocated for the current fiscal year was Rs 29.67 crore.

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, the country’s apex aviation-safety agency, has been allocated Rs 214.50 crore in the Budget. Significantly, UN aviation-watchdog, International Civil Aviation Organisation, is scheduled to audit India’s air-safety preparedness in the second half of this year.

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