Project Parade

Project Parade

In a blitzkrieg of sorts, projects worth around Rs 11 trillion have been launched or foundation stones laid for them by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in states across India from January to March 2024 (See ‘Projects announced’ box). In March 2024, over 1,014 projects were launched and i...

In a blitzkrieg of sorts, projects worth around Rs 11 trillion have been launched or foundation stones laid for them by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in states across India from January to March 2024 (See ‘Projects announced’ box). In March 2024, over 1,014 projects were launched and in February the value of projects launched exceeded Rs 3 trillion. Looking at the pace factor, in just 75 days of 2024, projects worth Rs 7 trillion were unveiled in around 10-12 days. In fact, on 12 March itself, 10 new Vande Bharat trains (worth Rs 1,060 billion) were flagged off. Further, emphasising the change of pace in implementation of projects, on a single day (11th March), the PM inaugurated 112 National Highway projects for different states worth about Rs 1 trillion. Also, a whopping Rs 80 trillion over a period of around 25 years has been envisaged for shipping, waterways and ports-related infrastructure in the country. One may dismiss the mind-boggling number of projects as just so many announcements in so much time – but one must look at the sheer magnitude of these projects. For example, in one catapult shot, Uttar Pradesh has become the only state in the country to have more airports than Maharashtra. So now the most populous state in India, which was lagging in terms of airport infrastructure for many years largely owing to its lower GDP compared to other states, has beaten even Maharashtra in this regard. Similarly, let us look at some other projects to understand their import: India’s first underwater metro service in Kolkata, featuring the Howrah Maidan-Esplanade Metro section, includes the first transportation tunnel in India to pass under a major river (Hooghly) and will connect the twin cities of Howrah and Salt Lake. The metro route, which will significantly alleviate traffic congestion in Kolkata, features three underground stations and is anticipated to traverse a 520-m stretch under the river within 45 seconds. The world’s longest twin-lane Sela tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh, at 13,000 ft, will provide all-weather connectivity to the Tawang region and facilitate speedy deployment of troops, weapons and machinery at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) along the Sino-India border. The tunnel was constructed using the New Austrian Tunnelling Method (NATM). Altogether 71,000 million tonnes (MT) of cement, 5,000 MT of steel and 800 MT of explosives were used for construction of the project. On India’s first rapid rail transit system (RRTS) corridor connecting Delhi to Meerut, for the first time in the country, both Namo Bharat trains and Meerut Metro will run on the same RRTS infrastructure. According to Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, “When work is completed, we will be the second-largest metro system in the world.” The National Capital Region Transport Corporation (NCRTC), which is implementing the RRTS, allows the usage of one card (the National Common Mobility Card, or NCMC) in all transit systems. T-50 is the country’s longest transportation tunnel in Kashmir on the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) and the first electrified trains of Kashmir were flagged off from Srinagar. The expanded, integrated Terminal 1 of Delhi International Airport will increase overall capacity to 100 million passengers per annum, the highest amongst the country’s airports. Sikkim has got its first railway station (Rangpo). India’s longest cable-based bridge connects Okha to Beyt Dwarka Island in Gujarat. The Agra Metro project will contribute to environmental conservation by recharging 1 million litre of groundwater per year. Unit 2 (660 MW) of the North Karanpura Super Thermal Power Project in Chatra, Jharkhand, is the country’s first supercritical thermal power project conceived with an air-cooled condenser (ACC) of such large magnitude that it reduces water consumption to one-third in comparison to conventional water-cooled condensers. In the petroleum sector alone, 39 projects at an investment of Rs.1,498 billion were inaugurated to reduce the nation’s energy import dependency. The VO Chidambaranar Port is the first green hydrogen hub port in the country. Similarly, showcasing the transformative impact of infrastructure development is the Dwarka Expressway, along with its connectivity to Indira Gandhi International Airport, which is contributing to rapid development of the NCR. According to real-estate consulting agency CBRE South Asia, the Dwarka Expressway not only serves as a northern ring road but also addresses the escalating traffic demands between Delhi and Gurugram. Further, the Delhi-Meerut Expressway will ease traffic congestion, reduce pollution in the region and enhance employment opportunities, particularly for the youth. Some big-ticket projects, which generated more hype, have not been mentioned here. The launch of numerous projects (across diverse sectors) to buttress the Government’s pro-development credentials in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls has been criticised as ‘election bait’. For his part, the PM has highlighted that the speed and scale of work the country has been seeing is unprecedented. The ‘Viksit Bharat’ by 2047 theme is part of the assertion that the return of the NDA government to power for a third term is essential for the development journey to continue. Implementation will be the challenge going forward. While the Prime Minister’s assertion of 21st Century India being “an India of big vision and big goals” underlines the promise of a $5 trillion economy, how these projects pan out over time is something that is yet to be seen. - R SRINIVASAN

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