Roads, railways, ports and other infrastructure projects will be the main focus of the new government. But the task is not without its challenges.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s manifesto envisages “all-weather roads” for all villages and aims to build a “Diamond Quadrilateral” of high speed train networks in India.
But limited availability of state funds and low participation of the private sector will be the key bottlenecks ahead. Many key border and coastal projects have been in limbo, thanks to high cost of construction.
The manifesto lays special emphasis on projects in Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast region.
Though the United Progressive Alliance government had given priority to Northeast projects, forming a special ministry for it and the proposed Udhampur-Katra rail line is soon to start operations, much needs to be done to match the aggressive pace at which the Chinese government had built infrastructure on the border.
The manifesto also speaks about expediting the work on dedicated freight corridors, national highways, modernisation of airports and exploring the potential for inland air transportation. One of the key measures, which could be a reality soon, is an integrated transport ministry.
The manifesto proposes to launch a Sagar Mala project to set up new ports and upgrading the existing ones and “stringing them together”.
Though the manifesto makes wishful promise of encouraging investment from the private sector, the specific challenges of low viability gap funding by the government, long gestation period of infrastructure projects and uncertainty of profits would require dynamic thinking and flexible approach from the new government to end the current mess in the public private participation area and boost investor confidence.
Developing national logistics network and the agri rail network to cater to the specific needs of perishable products such as milk and vegetables is another innovative measure spoken of in the BJP manifesto.
Anusha Soni in New Delhi