This year’s budget has set the pace for India’s development of the 21st century. This direction of “infrastructure-based development” will increase the potential of our economy phenomenally. This will also create many new employment opportunities in the country.
Traditionally, the country’s experience so far has been to build infrastructure as and when required. It used to be done in a piecemeal manner as per the requirement. As a result, the country has suffered a lot due to the lack of coordination between the Centre, states, local bodies and the private sector. Take for example the rail or road projects where we often find conflict and lack of coordination. Very often, it so happened that a road was built somewhere and the next day it was dug for laying water pipes. When the road was rebuilt, the sewer line personnel dug it again. This happens because different departments do not have clear information. Now everyone will be able to make their plans with complete information in advance due to the PM GatiShakti (plan). This will also lead to optimum utilization of the country’s resources.
The PM GatiShakti is very imperative given the large scale infrastructure development on which the government is working. The direct capital expenditure of the Government of India was about 1.75 lakh crore rupees in 2013-14, which has increased by four times to 7.50 lakh crore rupees in 2022-23. The government has increased investment in every sector, be it national highways, railways, airways, waterways, optical fiber connectivity, gas grid, or renewable energy. Our government has set very ambitious targets in these areas. We can carry forward infrastructure planning, implementation and monitoring in a very coordinated manner and can work in a new direction through the PM GatiShakti. This will also reduce time and cost overrun of the projects.
As you are aware that infrastructure has a huge multiplier effect on investment. Along with ease of living, it also improves ease of doing business. This also gives impetus to the economic productivity of all sectors. When the country is giving unprecedented momentum to infrastructure development, economic activity will increase and so will job creation.
Strengthening the principle of cooperative federalism, our government has made a provision of one lakh crore rupees in this year’s budget for the assistance of the states. The state governments will be able to use this amount on multimodal infrastructure and other productive assets. The National Ropeway Development Program is being launched to improve connectivity in the inaccessible hilly areas of the country. Our government is also committed to the balanced development of the North East. Keeping in view the requirement of these states, the PM-DevINE scheme has also been announced at a cost of Rs 1500 crore. The investment being made by the government in the infrastructure sector, along with the Production Linked Incentive Scheme, will take the development of the country to new heights in the coming years. All these efforts will open doors of new economic possibilities for you in this new era of infrastructure creation. I would urge the corporate world, the private sector of the country, to work step by step with the government and make a proud contribution to the development of the country.
You must also be aware that more than 400 data layers are now available in the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan. Not only does this provide information about the existing and planned infrastructure, but it also contains information like forest land, available industrial estate, etc. I suggest that the private sector should use it as much as possible for their planning. All the necessary information is being made available on a single platform in the National Master Plan which will make it possible to get project alignment and various types of clearances at the DPR stage itself. This will also be helpful in reducing your compliance burden. I would also urge the state governments to make the PM-Gati Shakti National Master Plan the basis for setting up their projects and economic zones.
Even today, the logistics cost in India is estimated to be 13 to 14 percent of GDP. This is more than in comparison to other countries. The PM GatiShakti has a huge role in improving infrastructure efficiency. A provision has been made in this year’s budget to create a Unified Logistic Interface Platform (ULIP) to reduce the logistics cost in the country. You must be aware that at present the digital systems of different ministries are working according to their requirements. Twenty-four digital systems of six ministries are being integrated through ULIP. This will create a National Single Window Logistics Portal which will help in reducing the logistics cost. The PM Gati-Shakti will also help our exports and our MSMEs will be able to be globally competitive. Our government has also set up the Logistics Division and the Empowered Group of Secretaries for better coordination in all the departments of the government to improve logistics efficiency. You can see the big role of technology in the PM Gati-Shakti. I would also urge the governments and the private sector to lay greater emphasis on bringing modern technology to our infrastructure projects. It will be very useful in terms of quality as well as cost-effectiveness and time. It has been found all over the world that natural disasters cause destruction to infrastructure more than human loss. Several bridges get destroyed and it takes 20 years to rebuild them. Therefore, the Disaster Resilience Infrastructure has become very imperative today. Unless there is technology, we will not be able to work in that direction. Therefore, there should be maximum use of technology. Companies working in the logistics sector have world-class knowledge and tools. Utilizing them, we have to ensure that the data available in the country is used better.
The GatiShakti will ensure true public-private partnership in infrastructure creation from planning to development and utilization stage. In this webinar, there should also be brainstorming on how the private sector can achieve better outcomes in collaboration with the government agencies. I am sure you will discuss all the issues in-depth during the webinar. Apart from infrastructure, your suggestions regarding the required changes in rules and policies would also be very important. The creation of modern infrastructure will strengthen the foundation of India and the PM GatiShakti National Master Plan is an important medium in this regard. I wish this webinar a success and hope that we all will benefit from your experiences.
I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that today’s webinar is not about making speeches by our government. We want to hear from you. It would be better if you offer suggestions in the light of the budget proposals. We can think about some of your suggestions when we formulate the next year’s budget. Do write to me at that time. Right now, we have to emphasize how well we have to implement the budget approved by the parliament. We still have this month of March left. The new budget will come into effect from April 1. Let us make maximum use of this month of March and start implementing the budget proposals from April 1 itself. Can we do this?
Earlier, the entire population of the world used to live near rivers. Large cities were developed near rivers and seas. Systems evolved. Gradually, the world thrived by shifting from there and moving near highways. And now it seems that the world will thrive where there would be an optical fiber. Time is changing. This means that there is no room for isolated infrastructure. A whole new ecosystem develops around it. This GatiShakti Master Plan will benefit us a lot in this regard also. Therefore, I would like you to implement the budget properly. There are also some flaws in the government machinery as files keep on moving for six months and by that time a new budget is on the anvil. The advantage of talking to you in advance is that the government systems will respond positively and immediately if you draw attention to any shortcomings. Therefore, you should contribute profoundly. This is my expectation. Best wishes to you all! Thanks a lot!
DISCLAIMER: This is the approximate translation of PM’s speech. Original speech was delivered in Hindi.