Saturday, Aug 16, 2003
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By Our Special Correspondent
On the infrastructure front, the Prime Minister announced that four-laning and upgrading of an additional 10,000 km of highways outside the ambit of the on-going National Highway Development Programme would begin before March next year. Also, an ambitious `Sagar Mala' project for expansion and upgrading of maritime infrastructure would be launched to supplement the on-going Prime Minister's Rural Roads Programme and the National Rail Vikas Yojana. Development of inland navigation would form part of the Sagar Mala project.
The modernisation and expansion of the Delhi and Mumbai airports through public-private initiatives found a mention in the Prime Minister's announcements and work on these two airports would begin in the next six months. Besides, the long-pending Greenfield Bangalore airport project was now ready for implementation, it was announced. A Technology Mission for Railway Safety has been announced to comprehensively address safety-related issues. The Mission would collaborate with the Department of Science and Technology, IIT Kanpur and a consortium of private sector companies. The Railways would also be setting up a 1,000 MW thermal power plant at Nabinagar in Bihar, in collaboration with the National Thermal Power Corporation. The power generated from this plant would be used by the Railways for electric traction.
Two National Action Plans for the development of bio-fuels and bamboo also form part of the Prime Minister's initiative and development of wasteland would be an integral part of these missions. A National Horticulture Mission would be launched with the objective of encouraging cultivation of fruits, vegetables, flowers, spices, etc. The mission's main target would be to double horticulture production by 2010.
For rural India, the Prime Minister announced a programme called PURA Provision of Urban Amenities in Rural Areas. Identified rural clusters with growth potential would get four types of connectivity road transport and power connectivity; electronic connectivity in the form of reliable telecom, internet and IT services; knowledge connectivity in the form of good educational and training institutes and market connectivity that would enable farmers to get the best prices for their produce.
The PURA programme would be implemented in 5,000 rural clusters across the country in the next five years with priority being accorded to the north-east, other Special Category States and identified backward areas. The first PURA project would begin as a fully Centrally-funded rural connectivity programme in Orissa's Kalahandi-Bolangir-Koraput (KBK) zone. The Prime Minister also committed more funds for the Rural Employment Guarantee Programme which would create over 20 lakh new employment opportunities in the next four years. A new group insurance scheme for workers in the khadi industry would be launched.
Linking of rivers
The task of linking of rivers is to begin before the end of this year, the Prime Minister said and identified linking of the Ken and Betua rivers in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh and the Parvati, Kalisindh and Chambal rivers in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan as the first two projects.
Two new commissions for the rehabilitation and development of disabled people and Nomadic tribes, new social security schemes for destitute children and a new financial package for the small-scale sector also formed part of the Prime Minister's initiatives.
Similarly, a plan to make Mumbai slum-free in the next 10 years is to be launched while five new IITs in various parts of the country and two new Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs) in Jabalpur and Kancheepuram are to be set up. Also, six new hospitals on the lines of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi would be set up in backward States in the next three years.
The initiatives also include the creation of a Tourism Infrastructure Development Fund and the launching of three new missions for preservation of monuments, preservation of antiquities and for preservation of `Intangible Heritage.'
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