Mega infrastructure development fund announced

A bumper infrastructure fund to cover road, shipping, airport connectivity with an outlay of Rs 2.41 lakh crore has been made for the ensuing year along with Rs 1.31 lakh crore for railways. Not just road infrastructure, the most ambitious mantra of the government, Digital India may shift gears — with the country’s nook and corners connected with high-speed broadband on optical fibre cable.

A budget allocation of Rs 64,900 crore has been made for highways. Up to 2,000 km of coastal connectivity roads have been identified for construction and development. “This proposal will positively impact real estate industry in these locations. Mumbai particularly will gain if the scheme provides an expedition to the coastal road proposal,” says by Ravi Ahuja, executive director, Office Services and Investment Sales at Colliers International India.

Under railways, a slew of projects have been announced — right from a passenger safety Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh will be created with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore over a period of five years and the budget, elimination of one of the worst bane of the department, unmanned level crossings on broad gauge lines, to commissioning 3,500 km of lines.

Train stations all over the country will sport a new look — some 25 stations will go through a make-over while 500 stations will be made differently-abled friendly by providing lifts and escalators. Around 7,000 stations will also be solar-fed. In the next two years, bio breaks in trains will not be a stress and tracks may indeed get rid of human excreta and stench — all coaches will have bio-toilets.

A new Metro Rail Policy is also on the anvil with a new Metro Rail Act that will be enacted by rationalising the existing laws. This will facilitate greater private participation and investment in construction and operation.

According to Amrit Pandurangi, partner, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India, the budget has overall sent across good signals for infra sector and companies with significantly higher allocation for all subsectors. “It is heartening to see a significant safety fund in railways and good allocation of capex for roads, irrigation. Indication of encouraging PPPs in all infra sectors will give a boost to potential new investors. Tier II city airports will improve services and consequently the air traffic to such cities aided by recent regional air connectivity programme of the ministry,” Pandurangi pointed out.

The tier II cities that have airports but yet uncommissioned/ non-working will be taken up for operation and maintenance in the PPP mode.

Anshuman Magazine, chairman, India and South East Asia, CBRE, feels that the proposed Airport Authority of India Act amendment to enable effective monitisation of land assets is yet another positive move which will allow development of land around the airports. “This will further improve infrastructure and more importantly increase funding for the development of the airports. This is over and above the record allocation made to the overall infrastructure sector,” he stressed.

Another game-changer would be seamless internet connectivity to the villages and the new budget is moving in that direction. By the end of 2017-18, the country’s administrators plan to roll out high-speed broadband connectivity on optical fibres in more than 1.50 lakh gram panchayats, under BharatNet. A DigiGaon initiative will be launched to provide tele-medicine, education and skills through digital technology.

Metro rail policy
A new Metro Rail Policy is also on the anvil with a new Metro Rail Act that will be enacted by rationalising the existing laws. This will pave for greater
private participation

Total make-over
Train stations all over the country will sport a new look — some 25 stations will go through a make-over while 500 stations will be made differently-abled friendly

Not growth oriented: Siddaramaiah
Terming it as incremental budget, Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah said that the Union budget is not growth-oriented. “There are lots of statements in the budget, but there is no clear cut policy or allocation of funds that I can see in the budget…there are no programmes in this budget that will complement development and job creation,” Siddaramaiah said in Mysuru that this time expectation was that after demonetisation of Rs 500 and 1000 notes, the additional income generated will be spent on poor, weaker sections, farmers, and women, but it has turned out to be false. “There was also expectation of growth in income because of demonetisation, but it is not seen. There is no increase in the income tax revenue,” he added. Stressing that not much has been done for agriculture, Siddaramaiah said there is mere increase in agriculture despite severe drought being faced by several states, including Karnataka. Siddaramaiah said demonetisation was done to divert public attention as they have not been able to fulfil their promise.

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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