Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 4 addressed a Post Budget Webinar on the subject of ‘Infrastructure and Investment: Improving logistic efficiency with PM Gatishakti National Master Plan’.
It is the eighth of a series of 12 post-budget webinars organised by the Government to seek ideas and suggestions for effectively implementing the initiatives announced in the Union Budget 2023.
Addressing the gathering, PM Modi expressed happiness that hundreds of stakeholders, along with more than 700 CEOs and MDs, are participating in today’s webinar, recognising its importance. The Prime Minister expressed confidence that all the sector experts and various stakeholders will make this webinar successful and effective.
PM Modi said that this year’s Budget would give new energy to infrastructure. PM Modi noted the praise for the Budget and its strategic decisions by the experts and major media houses. He informed that India’s Capex had increased five times compared to 2013-14, and the Government is moving with a target of investing 110 lakh crore rupees under the National Infrastructure Pipeline. “This is a time of new responsibilities, new possibilities and bold decisions for every stakeholder”, PM Modi emphasised.
“Infrastructure has a significant role to play in the sustainable development of any country along with development while keeping the needs of the future in mind”, PM Modi remarked. He underlined that those who have knowledge of history related to infrastructure are well-versed with this fact. He cited the construction of Uttarapath by Chandragupta Maurya, which was carried forward by Ashoka and later upgraded by Sher Shah Suri. He informed that it was the Britishers who turned it into G T Road.
“The importance of highways has been acknowledged for centuries in India”, PM Modi said. Referring to riverfronts and waterways, the Prime Minister gave the example of the Ghats of Banaras, which were directly connected to Kolkata via waterways. PM Modi also gave the example of the still operational, two-thousand-year-old Kallanai dam of Tamil Nadu.
Noting the obstacles that came in the way of investments in the country’s infrastructural development by previous Governments, PM Modi highlighted the prevailing mentality that poverty is a virtue. He underlined that the present Government has succeeded in eliminating this mentality and making record investments in modern infrastructure.
PM Modi elaborated on the improvement in this situation and said that the average construction of National Highways has nearly doubled compared to what it was before 2014. Similarly, only 600 route km of railway track was electrified per year before 2014, which is now reaching 4000 km per year. He added that the number of airports and seaport capacity has also doubled.
“Infrastructure development is the driving force of the country’s economy”, PM Modi remarked as he pointed out that India will achieve the target of becoming a developed nation by 2047 by following this very path. “Now we have to improve our speed and move in top gear”, he said. Noting that PM Gati Shakti Master Plan is a critical tool that integrates economic and infrastructural planning with development, PM Modi said, “Gati Shakti National Master Plan is going to change the face of India’s infrastructure and its multimodal logistics.”
PM Modi noted that the results of the PM Gati Shakti Master Plan are becoming visible. “We have identified the gaps that were impacting the logistics efficiency. That is why, in this year’s Budget, 100 critical projects have been prioritised, and 75,000 crore rupees have been allocated. “With quality and multimodal infrastructure, our logistic cost is going to reduce further in the days to come. This will positively impact the goods made in India and the competence of our products. Along with the logistics sector, there will be a lot of improvement in ease of living and ease of doing business”, he added, inviting the participation of the private sector in the sector.
Elaborating on the role of the states, PM Modi informed about the one-year extension of interest-free loans up to 50 years loans, and Budgetary expenditure for this has been increased to the tune of 30 per cent.
PM Modi asked the participants to find ways to develop a mechanism for an advanced forecast of the needs of their sectors, as various materials are needed for infrastructure development. “We need an integrated approach so that the roadmap for the future remains clear. PM Gati-Shakti National Master Plan has a big role in this”, he said, emphasising the need to integrate the concept of circular economy with the sector.
PM Modi recalled his experience after the earthquake in Kutch and explained how an entirely new approach to developing Kutch was adopted after the rescue work. He said that infrastructure-led development of the region, instead of politically expedient quick fixes, turned it into a vibrant hub of economic activity.
PM Modi emphasised that the robustness of India’s physical infrastructure is equally important for strengthening the country’s social infrastructure. He underlined that a strong social infrastructure would lead to more talented and skilled youth who would come forward to serve the nation. PM Modi stressed the need for skill development, project management, financial skills and entrepreneurship to accomplish this goal. He also addressed the need to develop a mechanism for skill forecasting that will help small and big industries from different sectors while also benefiting the human resource pool of the country. He also urged various ministries in the governments to work at a fast pace in this direction.
Noting the significance of the suggestions of every stakeholder in this webinar, PM Modi elaborated that they are not just contributing to the nation’s development but also providing momentum to the growth engine of India. He highlighted that infrastructural development is not limited to rail, road, ports, and airports anymore, but as part of this year’s Budget, PM Modi said that huge projects had been taken up for storing the produce of the farmers in villages. He also gave examples of wellness centres being developed in the cities and villages, new railway stations, and pucca houses being delivered to every family.
Concluding the address, PM Modi expressed confidence that the views, suggestions and experiences of all stakeholders will help in the fast and effective implementation of this year’s Budget.