Health infrastructure is an important indicator for understanding the health care policy and welfare mechanism in a country. It signifies the investment priority with regard to the creation of health care facilities. Infrastructure has been described as the basic support for the delivery of public health activities. India has systematically improved health conditions. Life expectancy has doubled from 32 years in 1947 to 66.8 years at present; Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) has fallen to 50 per thousand live births. Further, it is estimated that public funding accounts for only 22 per cent of the expenses on healthcare in India. Most of the remaining 78 per cent of private expenditure is out-of-pocket expense. The share of the richest 20 per cent of the population in total public sector subsidies is nearly 31 per cent, almost three times the share of the poorest 20 per cent of the population.

Healthcare System and Structure

Healthcare has become one of India’s largest sectors both in terms of revenue and employment. Healthcare comprises hospitals, medical devices, clinical trials, outsourcing, telemedicine, medical tourism, health insurance and medical equipment. The Indian healthcare sector is growing at a brisk pace due to its strengthening coverage, services and increasing expenditure by public as well private players.

Indian healthcare delivery system is categorized into two major components public and private. The Government i.e. public healthcare system comprises limited secondary and tertiary care institutions in key cities and focuses on providing basic healthcare facilities in the form of Primary Healthcare centres (PHCs) in rural areas. The private sector provides majority of secondary, tertiary and quaternary care institutions with a major concentration in metros, tier I and tier II cities. India’s competitive advantage lies in its large pool of well trained medical professionals. India is also cost competitive compared to its peers in Asia and Western countries. The cost of surgery in India is about one-tenth of that in the US or Western Europe.

Medical education infrastructure in India has shown rapid growth during the last 20 years. The country has 476 medical colleges, 313 colleges for BDS courses and 249 colleges which conduct MDS courses. There has been a total admission of 52,646 Medical Colleges and 27060 in BDS and 6233 in MDS during 2017-18.

There are 3215 Institutions for General Nurse Midwives with admission capacity of 129,926 and 777 colleges for Pharmacy (Diploma) with an intake capacity of 46,795 as on 31st October, 2017. There are 23,582 government hospitals having 710,761 beds in the country. 19,810 hospitals are in rural area with 279,588 beds and 3,772 hospitals are in urban area with 431,173 beds. 70 per cent of population of India lives in rural areas and to cater to their need there are 156,231 Sub Centres (SCs), 25,650 Primary Health Centres (PHC) and 5,624 Community Health Centres (CHC) in India as on 31st March 2017.

Towards Universal Access to Health Care

Universal access to health care is a well-articulated goal for both global institutions and national government. India’s national Health Policy, 2017 envisions the goal of attaining highest possible level of health and well-being for all at all ages through a preventive and promotive health care orientation in all developmental policies, and universal access to good quality health care services without financial hardship to the citizens. Under health related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) no. 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), a commitment towards global effort to eradicate disease, strengthen treatment and healthcare, and address new and emerging health issues has been pronounced. The gains of India in many health related indicators helped the country to make progress in achieving MDGs. Ayushman Bharat Mission, world’s largest health scheme announced in the Union Budget 2018-19, is the latest initiative for expanding the health insurance net and targets 10 crore poor and deprived rural families. There has been a concerted effort to improve the health care infrastructure as well as delivery mechanism in the last couple of years. Several schemes, programmes and initiatives have been undertaken to bridge the gap to make the quantity as well as quality of the health services available to the last mile.

Major Government Initiatives

Government of India has taken some major initiatives to promote Indian healthcare industry. On September 23, 2018, Government of India launched Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), to provide health insurance worth Rs 500,000 (US$ 7,124.54) to over 100 million families every year. In August 2018, the Government of India has approved Ayushman Bharat National Health Protection Mission as a centrally Sponsored Scheme contributed by both Centre and State governments at a ratio of 60:40 for all States and 90:10 for hilly North Eastern States and 60:40 for Union Territories with legislature. The Centre will contribute 100 per cent for Union Territories without legislature.

Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY)

The Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) has the objectives of correcting regional imbalances in the availability of affordable/ reliable tertiary healthcare services and also to augment facilities for quality medical education in the country.



PMSSY has two components:

  • Setting up of AIIMS like institutions
  • Upgradation of Government Medical College Institutions.

Six AIIMS-like institutions, one each in the States of Bihar (Patna), Chhattisgarh (Raipur), Madhya Pradesh (Bhopal), Orissa (Bhubaneswar), Rajasthan (Jodhpur) and Uttaranchal (Rishikesh) have been set-up under the PMSSY scheme. Approved cost of each new AIIMS in first phase was Rs. 820 crores, Rs. 620 crores towards cost of construction and Rs. 200 crores for procurement of Medical Equipment and modular Operation Theatres.

PMSSY also envisaged up-gradation of several existing medical institutions in different states in the country. Initially the estimated outlay for up-gradation was revised to Rs. 150 crores per institution (From initial estimate of Rs. 120 crore), with Rs. 125 crore as the share of Central Government.

Ayushman Bharat, Pradhan Mantri jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY)

One of the most ambitious health insurance programmes in the world today, the Pradhan mantra Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY). Ayushman Bharat, gives India the chance to transform its healthcare infrastructure. Launched in September 2018, PMJAY aims to address the healthcare needs of India’s poorest 100 million households. The path to success, however, is strewn with several challenges. If these hurdles are overcome and if PMJAY succeeds. India’s largest health insurance scheme would also become its most effective healthcare initiative.

PMJAY has the potential to institute reforms to the country’s healthcare and health insurance systems at a lower cost to the exchequer. If streamlined, health information and monitoring systems can arrest the possibility of over-provisioning and cost-inflation. The idea to shift away from a decaying system of government-funded hospitals and people, towards a mix of private and government health care, governed by common principles and financed by low-cost health insurance–is a step in the right direction.


The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by the Prime Minister on 2nd October 2014, focuses on promoting cleanliness in public spaces. Public health care facilit4eis are a major mechanism of social protection to meet the health care needs of large segments of the population. Cleanliness and hygiene in hospitals are critical to preventing infections and also provide patients and visitors with a positive experience and encourages moulding behaviour related to clean environment. As the first principle of healthcare is “to do no harm” it is essential to have our health care facilities clean and to ensure adherence to infection control practices. Swachhta Guidelines for Public Health Facilities have been issued separately. To complement this effort, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India has launched a National Initiative to give Awards to those public health facilities that demonstrate high level of cleanliness, hygiene and infection control. “Kayakalp” is an initiative to promote sanitation and hygiene in public healthcare institutions. Facilities which outshine and exceed the set measures are awarded and incentivized under Kayakalp.

Till date, “Kayakelp’ initiative has been able to encourage public health facilities in the country to work towards attainment of excellence in cleanliness and hygiene. “Kayakalp” is becoming instrumental in building confidence of the users in public health facilities.

Mission Indradhanush

The Government of India has launched Mission Indradhanush with the aim of improving coverage of immunization in the country. It aims to achieve at least 90 per cent immunization coverage by December 2018 which will cover unvaccinated and partially vaccinated children in rural and urban areas of India.

Private sector in Health Care     

The Supreme Court in a recent judgment directed government hospitals in Delhi to refer poor patients to private hospitals. This decision has been described as a pro-poor decision which aims at bringing the poor rural patients at par with the urban rich patients who till now had been the sole beneficiaries of such private institutions. The court directed that the private institutions would provide medical care free of cost the poor, pending preparation of a scheme which would involve private players in treating the poor. The appeal was filed against an earlier decision of the Delhi High Court whereby, the High court had directed certain private hospitals to ensure free treatment to 10 percent in-patients and 25 percent outpatients, this mandatory ruling was given on the ground that the land’ for construction was given on an undertaking which bound the private players to provide free health care to people who belong to economically weaker sections of the society. The apex court directed that the Delhi Government and Private Health institutions should come together and draw up a plan for serving the poor. This decision would go a long way in strengthening the public health system. The issues of access to quality health care may be addressed by collaboration between State Governments and private players.

Market Size

The healthcare market can increase three fold to Rs 8.6 trillion (US$ 133.44 billion) by 2022. India is experiencing 22-25 per cent growth in medical tourism and the industry is expected to double its size for present (April 2017) US$ 3 million to US$ 6 billion by 2018.

There is a significant scope for enhancing healthcare services considering that healthcare spending as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is rising. The government’s expenditure on the health sector has grown to 1.4 per cent in FY18E from 1.2 per cent in FY14. The Government of Indian is planning to increase public health spending to 2.5 per cent of the country’s GDP by 2025.


The hospital and diagnostic centers attracted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worth US$ 5.25 billion between April 2000 and June 2018, according to data released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).


In 2017, the Government of India approved National Nutrition Mission (NNM), a joint effort of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) towards a lifecycle approach for interrupting the intergenerational cycle of under nutrition.

As of September 23, 2018, the world’s largest government funded healthcare scheme, Ayushman Bharat was launched.

As of November 15, 2017, 4.45 million patients were benefitted from Affordable Medicines and Reasonable Implants for Treatment (AMRIT) Pharmacies.

As of December 15, 2017, the Government of India approved the National Medical Commission Bill 2017. It aims to promote medical education reform.

Road Ahead: Healthcare infrastructure and services

India’s healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing sectors and it is expected to reach $280 billion by 2020. The country has also become one of the leading destinations for high-end diagnostic services with tremendous capital investment for advanced diagnostic facilities, thus catering to a greater proportion of population. Besides, Indian medical service consumers have become more conscious towards their healthcare upkeep.

Indian healthcare sector is much diversified and is full of opportunities in every segment which includes providers, payers and medical technology. With the increase in the competition, businesses are looking to explore for the latest dynamics and trends which will have positive impact on their business. The hospital industry in India is forecasted to increase to Rs 8.6 trillion (US$ 132.84 billion) by FY22 from Rs 4 trillion (US$13 61.79 billion) in FY17 at a CAGR of 16-17 per cent.

India’s competitive advantage also lies in the increased success rate of Indian companies in getting Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) approvals. India also offers vast opportunities in R&D as well as medical tourism. To sum up, there are vast opportunities for investment in healthcare infrastructure in both urban and rural India.

Garg (2018) suggests that public healthcare service should ensure three “Es-Expand -Equity – Excellence”. Access to adequate health care would need expansion of tertiary care facilities. Tertiary care should be equitably distributed to different segments of population. The setting tip of new facilities will have to address imbalances at three levels-regional, specialties, and ratio of medical doctors to nurses and other healthcare professionals.

India is well poised to a better public healthcare infrastructure, facilities and services and hopefully with all the well intentioned initiatives we shall see health taking a top priority agenda in the coming years and delivering on the promises that the new and bold initiatives in the health sector.





The Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Shri. Conrad k Sangma, Inaugurated the project “Development of North East Circuit: Umiam (Lake View)- U Lum Sohpetbneng- Mawdiangdiang – Orchid Lake Resort” implemented under Swadesh Darshan Scheme of Ministry of Tourism, Government of India This is the first Swadesh Darshan project of Union Tourism Ministry in the state of Meghalaya.

            The project was sanctioned by the Ministry of Tourism in July 2016 for Rs. 99.13 Crores. Under this project the Ministry has developed facilities like traditional Healing Centre. Tribal Rejuvenation Centre, Tourist Information Centre, multipurpose Hall, Log Huts, Cafeteria, Sound and Light show, Souvenir Shops, Water Sports, Zone, Zip Line, Canopy Walk, Trekking routes, Cycling Track, Last Mile Connectivity, Caravan Parking, Public Toilets, and |Slid Waste management.  

            Swadesh Darshan scheme is one of the flagship schemes of the Ministry of Tourism for development of thematic circuits in the country in a planned and prioritized manner. Under this scheme the Government is focusing on development of quality infrastructure in the country with the objective of providing better experience and facilities to the visitors on the one hand and on other hand fostering economic growth. The scheme was launched in 2014-15 and as on date the Ministry has sanctioned 74 projects worth Rs. 5932.05 Crore to 30 States and UTs. 30 projects / major components of these projects are expected to be completed this year. 9 projects have been inaugurated as on date under the scheme.

Nelson Mandela, the Nobel laureate for peace and former president of South Africa, said in one of his speeches. “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair…” But to inspire the next generation, we need the right professionals to lead and coach them in sports.

It is with this as one of the missions that the National Sports University, Manipur, was set up in 2018. The University is presently functional from its temporary campus at the Khuman Lampak Sports complex of Imphal. The Prime Minister laid the foundation stone for the University’s proposed 325 acre campus at lmphal West, on March 16, 2018.

University –with four schools:

Ø  School of Sports Science and Sports Medicine

Ø  School of Sports Management and Technology

Ø  School of Sports Education

Ø  School of Interdisciplinary Studies

The National Sports University will have the flexibility to open new schools/departments in consonance with the advances and developments in sports science, sports medicine, and allied areas. The University, once developed, will be the first one of its kind to promote sports education in the areas of sports sciences, sports technology, sports management, and sports coaching. It will also function as the national training centre for selected sports disciplines by adopting the best international practices by signing Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with international Universities. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports has already signed MoUs with the Universities of Canberra and Victoria in April 2017.

National Sports University aims to become the pioneering university in country to prepare world-class athletes, sports scientists, sports managers, sports architects, sports journalists, physical educationists with the help of path-breaking research & diverse programs that inspire leadership, teamwork, and resilience among its students, thereby profoundly impacting our society in meaningful ways.

Ø  To produce top athletes, sports scientists, competent physical educationists by offering programs that cultivate learning through competition, recreation, physical activity in addition to classroom learning.

Ø  To mentor students by inculcating values & leadership skills in them by providing diverse opportunities that develop character to succeed in all facets of their lives.


Ø  To study human potential holistically by conducting pioneering research in the field of sports science & use its findings to boost public health & enhance international performance of Indian athletes.



Ø  To develop the entire sports eco-system including sports management, sports journalism, sports architecture, sports equipment manufacturing, etc.


Ø  To contribute towards promoting international peace with the power of sports by helping build a society & country healthy in mind and body.









Creating a sanitation revolution has been high on the agenda of the government. The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) was launched on 2nd October, 2014 to accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage in India and promote access to safe sanitation in India. Over 9 crore toilets have been built to prevent open defecation and rural sanitation coverage has increased significantly.

Swachh Iconic Places (SIP)

Under the inspiration of the Prime Minister, MDWS has undertaken a multi-stakeholder initiative focusing on cleanliness in 100 locations across the country, which are “iconic” due to their heritage, religious and/or cultural significance. So far, in the first three phases, 30 iconic places have been identified.

Namami Gange

The Namami Gange Programme is an initiative of Ministry of Water Resources (MOWR0. As an inter-ministerial initiative, making villages on the bank of river Ganga ODF and interventions dealing with solid and liquid waste management (SLWM) are being implemented by MDWS.

All 4470 villages located across 52 districts of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal have been declared ODF with active help of state governments. Now the Ministry has taken up 25 villages on the bank of River Ganga to transform them as Ganga Grams in coordination with NMCG. MDWS has sanctioned Rs. 67 Crore to fie Ganga States to take up tree plantation and related preparatory activities on the revenue land in Ganga Bank villages.

GOBARdhan Scheme

MDWS launched the Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resource Dhan or “GOBARdhan” scheme on 30th April 2018, at Karnal, Haryana. The scheme is aimed at keeping villages clean while increasing the income of farmers and cattle owners by promoting local entrepreneurs to convert cattle dung, and other organic resources, to biogas and organic manure.


Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation launched Swajal, a community demand driven, decentralized, single village, preferably solar powered, mini PWS programme for the 117 aspirational districts identified by NITI Aayog. The Hon’ble Vice President laid the foundation for the scheme at Jharkhand on 27.9.2018 and the first scheme was inaugurated at Hazaribagh, Jharkhand on World toilet Day, 19th November, 2018.


   National Youth Parliament Festival 2019 Launched

The National Youth Parliament Festival 2019 was launched on 12m January 2019 by the Minister of State (I/C) for Youth Affairs and Sports Col Rajyavardhan Rathore (Retd) thereby beginning the celebration of the National Youth Day 2019.

Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, in his Mann Ki Baat address on 31st December 2017, had shared his idea of organizing Youth Parliaments for young people in every district of the country. It is to provide a chance to the youth to brainstorm about new resolves before 2022. He reiterated his idea to capture the voice of the youth in his address to the youth during the 22nd “National Youth Festival on 12th January 2018.

Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports proposes to take the Youth Festival to each district of the country and celebrate it as the “National Youth Parliament Festival”. National Youth Parliament Festival 2019 is organized on the theme of “Be The Voice of New India” and “Find solutions and contribute to policy”. Youth in the age bracket of 18-25 years are invited to participate in the District Youth Parliaments. The National Youth Parliament Festival will also encourage the youth to engage with public issues, understand the common man’s point of view, form their opinion and express these in an articulate manner It is expected that more than 50 thousand youth will participate through Youth Parliaments at all levels and the narrative will be strengthened and made more vibrant by their voices and ideas and suggestions.






Indian Railways, the third largest railway network in the world, has, in the past few years, undergone transformational changes to expand its reach to every corner of the country at a remarkable speed, and to provide passenger and freight services with safety and punctuality.

The railways maintain a gigantic network of 63,000 kms and run 22,000 trains to transport 1.50 million passengers daily. This requires keeping infrastructure such as track, bridges, signaling and telecommunications in fit condition. The Government under the Prime Minister’s leadership enhanced investment in the railways, and gave it a big push so that it maintains existing services, and meets their every growing demand. The allocation for Railways has increased to Rs 5.30 lakh crores in the past five years.

The Railways are now connecting India at a faster pace with a 59 per cent increase in the average aped of commissioning new lines from 4.1 km (2009-14) per day to 6.53 kms per day (2014-18). The annual capital expenditure during the first four years of the Government saw a quantum leap and was more than double that of the 2009-14 average.

Transformation is on from Kanyakumari in the South to the North East region. Doubling of tracks and electrification projects, which provide much relief to a system under stress, have been launched in the Kanyakumari-Nagercoil-Thiruvananthapuram section covering 349 kms at a cost of Rs. 3618 crores.

Connecting the Seven Sisters

In the North East, rail connectivity has come to all the Seven Sister States of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Meghalaya came on the rail map with the flagging off of the first ever train from Guwahati to Mendipathar in Meghalaya on 29 November, 2014 by the Prime Minister. Tripura has been put on the broad gauge railway map. On July 31, 2016, the Agartala-New Delhi ‘Tripura Sundari Express’ was flagged off. The Agartala-New Delhi Rajdhani Express was launched on October 28, 2017. It trudges the longest route (2,422 km) for any Rajdhani Express in service.

Jiribam, the first railway station in Manipur was connected by broad gauge line. The Prime Minister flagged off the first passenger train service to Jiribam on May 27, 2016. The passenger train service to Bhairabi in Mizoram was also flagged off by him. The Lumding-Silchar Broad Gauge section was inaugurated after gauge conversion on November 20th, 2015, giving seamless broad gauge connectivity to Barak Valley of Assam. Broad gauge rail link is being extended to all eight North East state capitals.

The North-East is witnessing historic changes. The Bogibeel Bridge, the longest Rail-cum-Road Bridge of the country running 4.94 km in length across river Brahmaputra near Dibrugarh in Assam has been commissioned, connecting Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Dedicated to the nation by the Prime Minister on 25th December, 2018 the bridge has double line track with three-lane road and 74 km of total railway track.

Sanctioned in 1997-98 at a cost of Rs.1000 crore, work on Bogibeel was commenced in April, 2002 by the late Shri Atal Bihari Bajpayee, then Prime Minister of India. The completion cost of the project is estimated at Rs.5820 crore.

India’s tallest bridge with pier height of 141 m is being constructed on Irang River at Noney in Tamenglong district, Manipur as part of the Jiribam-Tupul-Imphal new line, a marvel of railway engineering. Its height will be almost equal to two Qutub Minars combined. There will be six tall bridges having pier height more than 70 m in the Bhairabi-Sairang 51.3 km new line project.

Among the remarkable changes in the North East were the completion of 970 km gauge conversion project in the region in the last four years. All metre gauge (MG) sections have been converted to broad gauge (BG) and there is no MG operation in the entire North East Region. There has been addition of 353.15 km of New Lines, Gauge Conversion and Doubling commissioned per year during the period 2014-15 to 2017-18, as against the average of 110 km commissioning per year in the NE Region during 2009-2014. Fifteen new line projects of 1,397 km length having a total cost of Rs 47,695 crore are in different stages of planning, sanction of execution, which fall partly or fully in the NE states, to make the region a composite region.

Capacity Augmentation

Capacity augmentation was essential on the Indian Railways, and the railways launched two Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFCs) projects, Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridors (EDFC) and WDFC), for the purpose. The two projects have progressed full speed since 2014, culminating in successful trial of freight trains over Phulera-Atari section of the Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (WDFC) and Khurja-Bhadan section of Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) in August and November 2018, respectively.

The trials of freight trains will be completed on extended sections of Rewari-Madar section of the western corridor and the Khurja-Bhaupur section of eastern corridor by the end of the current financial year (2018-19).

The Dedicated Freight Corridors will be fully commissioned in phases by March 2020. Part sections of Western and Eastern DFCs viz 190 km Ateli-Phulera section of WDFC were opened on August 15, 2018 and 194 km New Khurja-New Bhadan section of EDFC were opened on November 23, 2018.

The commissioning of the two projects, spanning over 3376 route kms, will not only help the railways regain its market share of freight transport but guarantee, at the same time, an efficient, reliable, safe and cheaper system of goods movement for the country. When the two freight corridors operate, the railways’ freight operations will see a fundamental change brought about by reduction in unit cost of transportation, smaller organization and management cost, with higher efficiency and lower energy consumption.

To overcome the problem of congestion and over-saturation of routes, doubling of tracks and laying of additional lines has been going on. In the last four years, the railways made significant achievements and 2555 km of New Lines, 3396 km of Gauge Conversion and 3577 km of Doubling were commissioned. During 2017-18, 1862 km was commissioned including 409 km of New Lines, 454 km of Gauge Conversion and 999 km of Doubling.

As much as 14,480 km of track doubling, and third and fourth line works were included in the recent budgets. To expedite these capacity enhancement projects, funds have been arranged through institutional financing. Also, based on physical progress of projects, last mile connectivity projects and projects for decongesting the existing routes, sufficient funds are being allotted to each project.

Speeding up Electrification

To reduce dependence on imported diesel fuel and carbon emission, Indian Railways have embarked upon a major programme to speed up electrification of railway lines. Currently, around two thirds of freight and more than half of passenger traffic in Indian Railways moves on electric traction. Electric traction accounts for just 37 per cent of the total energy expenses of Indian Railways. Due to this advantage, through electrification, Indian Railways is likely to save Rs 13,510 crore per annum in fuel bills and the same will improve its finances. During the period of construction, the electrification projects will generate direct employment of crores of mandays.

The railways had 30,212 route kilometers (RKM) electrified on 1st April, 2018, and electrification work has been in progress on 33,658 route kilometers at a sanctioned cost of Rs 29,486 crore. Out of the balance route, a length of 13,675 route kilometers was sanctioned in September, 2018 at a cost of Rs. 12,134.50 crore. During 2017-18, 4,087 RKM of road gauge routes have been commissioned on electric traction against a target of 4,000 RKM. The previous year (2016-17), achievement on electrification was 1,646 RKM.

Electrification will reduce the use of imported fossil fuels thereby improving energy security to the nation. Consumption of high speed diesel oil will be reduced by about 2.83 billion litres per annum and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. This will also reduce environmental impact of Railways. Hundred per cent electrification will provide seamless train operation by eliminating detention of trains due to change in traction from diesel to electric and vice versa.

It will help Railways in enhancing line capacity due to higher speed and higher haulage capacity of electric locomotives. There will be improved signaling systems, which will lead to enhanced safety in train operations.

To achieve the ambitious target electrification of balance routes, strategic policy decisions have been taken, like base of executing agencies have been broadened and projects covering 1735 RKM have already been entrusted to PSUs i.e. IRCON, RITES and PGCIL.

Ensuring Safety

To ensure connectivity with safety, the railways created the Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK), a dedicated fund for safety projects during 2017-18, with a corpus of Rs 1 lakh crores over a period of five years, specially for clearing the backlog of critical safety related works. This includes track renewals and safety, strengthening o bridges, elimination of unmanned level crossings, upgradation of maintenance facilities, signaling improvement and complete switchover to shock-resistant LHB coaches with greater safety features, along with retro fitment of ICF coaches.

The total expenditure planned on safety activities including Rashtriya Rail Sanraksha Kosh (RRSK) was Rs. 68,725 cr in RE 2017-18 and Rs. 73,65 cr in BE 2018-19. The RRSK will comprise Rs. 5,000 or from Capital (Budgetary Support), Rs. 10,000 cr from Railway safety Fund received as Railways’ share from Central Road fund and Rs. 5,000 cr from Railways’ revenue. Apart from elimination of Unmanned Level Crossings on all busy routes and shift to production of safer LHB coaches, there is focus on track renewal with the highest outlay ever.

Safety has been accorded priority and consequential train accidents reduced to 62 per cent from 118 in 2013-14 to 73 in 2017-18. Addressing the issue of unsafe crossings on a war footing, 5,479 Unmanned Level Crossings have been eliminated in the last four years. Safety posts running into over a lakh are also being filled-up.

It had been decided to completely stop the manufacture of ICF Coaches from 1st April, 2018 and shift to safer Linke Hofimann Busch (LHB) design coaches having anti-climbing features.

The railways signaling system is being completely modernized and included I the works programme of 2018-19 for the renewal programme on the complete 60,000 route Kilometers (RKMs) of the Broad Gauge (BG) network of Indian Railways.

Responding to the problem of accidents at unmanned level crossings, the Government has planned to remove or man all unmanned level crossings (UMLCs) on Broad Gauge (BG). As on 1st April, 2018, there were 5792 unmanned level crossings out of which 3479 were on Broad Gauge, 1135 on Meter Gauge and 1178 on Narrow Gauge.

Offering Better Services

To make the railways smart, for punctuality, instead of the station master recording the time, data loggers have been put at interchange points which would be computer generated. The step has already improved punctuality to 73-74 per cent.

Indian Railways is working on putting a GPS device on every locomotive so that every train can be tracked on mobile phones knowing exactly where they are. Railways is reviewing to engage itself with artificial intelligence. The Railways believe that there is a lot which can be done with data being put to use with predictive maintenance, better monitoring and utilization of assets and better passenger service. Indian Railways has also planned to make 6,000 railway stations Wi-Fi enabled.

Railways is improving passenger services including a complete makeover of stations by installing modern facilities including escalators, lifts, free wifi etc. while instilling local art and culture in the design. Sixty-eight stations are slated for improvement by March 2019. Government has improved trains and coaches including launching the Tejas, Antyodaya and Humsafar train. ‘Make in India’ has been given a boost by indigenous manufacturing of Semi High Speed (160 Kmph) self propelled Train 18. Work has started on Mumbai-Ahedabad Bullet train project on Japanese model.

Catering to passengers’ travel and comfort needs, 407 new train services have been launched in the last four years with 1.37 lakh services to meet festival demand. Catering has also been a focus area with compulsory printing of MRP on all food items started on more than 300 trains, and use of artificial intelligence to monitor food production in base kitchens for improving quality and hygiene. The railways will go for LHB coaches in a big way as they are fit to run at speeds from 130 kmph to 160 kmph.

To make rail transportation attractive to its customers, various initiatives were taken in 2017-18 which includes tariff rationalization, classification of new commodities, expansion of freight basket through containerization, new delivery models like RO-RO services, Long Term Tariff Contract policy with key customers, Station to Station rate, Double Stack Dwarf Container (DSDC), customer friendly rationalization of weighment policy, Electronic Registration for Demand of Wagons (e-RD) etc.

Decision has been taken to transport empty containers and empty flat wagons for private container rakes at a discount of 25 per cent. The move is likely to give a thrust to movement of empty containers by rail towards ports to return as loaded, thus profiting Indian Railway with higher container share.


More than 664 Kms of Metro Rail Projects in 15 Cities

The Prime Minister unveiled several metro projects besides other important projects related to housing during his visit to Maharashtra in December 2018. The Prime Minister laid the Foundation Stone of two important metro corridors – the Thane-Bhiwandi-Kalyan Metro, and the Dahisar-Mira-Bhayander Metro. The two corridors, once completed, will greatly facilitate public transport in the area. In Pune, the Prime Minister laid the Foundation Stone of Pune Metro Phase-3.

Shri Hardeep S Puri, Minister of State (I/C) for Housing and Urban Affairs stated that more than 664 kms of Metro Rail projects in 15 cities are under various stages of implementation, while more than 515 kms of Metro Line are already operational in India. Interacting with the Members of the Consultative Committee attached to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on October 29, 2018, the Minister informed them about various initiatives taken by his Ministry on Urban Transport in the country in the recent past. The Minister said, in order to create an ecosystem for metro rail, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has notified the Metro Rail Policy, 2017. “The policy bridges the gap for ascertaining and enhancing the feasibility of metro rail projects from economic, social and environmental perspective. This aims to focus on systematic planning and implantation of metro rail projects form economic, social and environmental perspective. This aims to focus on systematic planning and implementation of metro rail systems and act as a guide to State Governments for preparing comprehensive proposals for metro rail projects”, he emphasized.











he vastly unexplored slice of paradise – North East, connected to the rest of the country through Siliguri Corridor, popularly known as the chicken neck area in North West Bengal flanked by Nepal and Bangladesh, is on a resurgent path as far as road connectivity is concerned.

The North Eastern Region (NER) consists of eight states, namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura. The region accounts for 3.78 per cent of India’s population and covers 7.98 per cent of its total geographical area. Its contribution to national GDP is 2.5 per cent.

The region is strategically important of India both for its geographical location and its resources and shares about 5,437 km of international boundaries with Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Myanmar and Nepal.

Recognizing the need to augment infrastructure in the region, the government of India has sanctioned about Rs 1,90,000 crore worth of projects for construction of road projects for over 12,000 kms.

Accelerating Infrastructure Development

The projects being executed by National Highway & Infrastructure Development Corporation (NHIDCL) are to the tune of Rs1,66,026 crore, covering 10,892 km of roads in all the eight NE states.

To accelerate the sluggish pace of implementation of infrastructure projects in hilly and tough terrains like NER, NHIDCL was incorporated on July 18,2014 as a public sector undertaking under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and has bolstered highways construction as a specialized agency.

Projects costing Rs 17,257 crore have been allotted to the respective State Public Work Departments (PWDs).

Further, projects costing Rs 7,000 crore are entrusted to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

Special Accelerated Road Development Programme for the North-Eastern region (SARDP) is another initiative of the government to fast-track infrastructure projects in the region.


Fast-Tracking Highway Projects

The government think tank NITI Aayog, advocating to develop the region by 2022-23 for enhanced trade, particularly for the export of products made in the NER, to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region and other neighbouring  countries (Bangladesh, Bhutan and  Nepal), has stressed the need to fast-track highway projects.

Identifying inadequate road connectivity as one of the major factors for untapped abundant resources and lack of tourism, the Aayog has stressed the need to “monitor closely on-going transport projects with focus on projects that boost inter-regional connectivity and help transform the region into a major trade hub with South East Asia.”

It said the projects like Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project, the India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, the 5-km road stretch between the border city of Zokhawthar in Mizoram and Rih in Myanmar need to be expedited besides improving “about 4,099 km in the North-East”

The region, no doubt has witnessed renewed government attention in recent years with the completion of as many as 43 National Highways Projects in the ongoing fiscal 2018-19 by November 30, 2018.

As far as the land acquisition for the National Highways Projects is concerned in the region, barring Assam, which charges 10 per cent of the compensation amount of land acquisition, the rest levy nil charges for it.

Of the 1,15,435 km length  of National Highways in the country, Arunachal Pradesh has 2,537 km, Assam 3,845 km, Manipur 1,746 km, Meghalaya 1,204 km, Mizoram 1,422 km, Nagaland 1,547 km, Sikkim 463 km and Tripura 854 km share.

New Roadway Projects

In December 2018, the Road Transport and Highways Minister laid foundation stones and inaugurated several big-ticket highway projects totaling Rs 9,533 crore in Arunachal Pradesh saying these will transform the picture of North East states by way of development, job creation, tourism and employment for the youth.

Prior to this, the Minister had inaugurated upgraded Jowai-Ratacherra (Meghalaya Assam Border) section of the National Highway- 06 at Shillong and dedicated the 102 km road project to the nation, constructed at a cost of Rs 683 crore.

The 102 km long stretch of road is very important for the development of industries in Meghalaya as it passes through cement and coal belts of the State and reduces travel time from 4 hours to 2.5 hours. This facilitates trucks and heavy vehicles coming from 4 hours to 2.5 hours. This facilitates trucks and heavy vehicles coming from Brahmaputra Valley to move from Brahmaputra Valley to move smoothly in a record time frame to Silchar in Barak Valley, within Assam, thus providing connectivity to states like Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and southern Assam.

Another shot in the arm will be Dhubri-Phulbari Bridge over Brahmaputra. As it is a 20 km long bridge project with navigational span of 12.625 km, a detailed investigation of soil and hydrology of the area was required to be carried out before finalisation.

The project is being funded by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and loan agreement has been signed in October, 2018. Construction of the bridge is scheduled to be taken up during the financial year 2019-2020.

The Prime Minister has said that next generation transport infrastructure has grown in the last four years and the network was expanding to the north eastern parts of the country.

Indo Myanmar Connectivity

Recently a meeting between India and Myanmar reviewed the progress of the ongoing India-Myanmar Transport Connectivity projects.

The two sides discussed the status of the project for upgradation of the Kalewa-Yagyi stretch of the India-Myanmar-Thailand (IMT) Trilateral Highway and starting of Imphal-Mandalay bus service.

The upgradation of the Kalewa-Yagyi stretch of IMT is being executed by National Highways Authority of India. India and Myanmar are keen on bus service after operationalising the Land Border Crossing Agreement, which allows nationals from the two countries holding valid passport and visa to cross over without requiring special permission. Now both countries have to select bus operators to run the service.

Bharatmala Project

The Government’s focus on the North East could also be understood from the fact that it plans 28 ring Roads under Bharatmala project in the region identifying 125 Choke Points and 66 Congestion Points to reduce congestion.

The major cities in the North Eastern states where such interventions have been planned are Guwahati, Imphal, Silchar, Shillong, Dibrugarh, Dimapur and Aizawl.

The Government, in October 2017, had approved a mega plan to build 83,677 km of highways in the country over the next five years at a cost of about Rs 6.92 lakh crore which includes the ambitious Bharatmala project, the biggest ever after National Highways Development Programme.

Bharatmala project, an umbrella programme for roads under which 34,800 km of highways will be constructed at a cost of Rs 5.35 lakh crore in the first phase includes a large number of projects for the North East.

These comprise 1,191 economic corridors, international connectivity projects, border roads feeder roads for Assam, 901 for Manipur, 493 for Meghalaya, 1,067 for Mizoram, 406 for Nagaland, 165 projects for Sikkim and 525 for Tripura.

Under Bharatmala Pariyojana, road stretches aggregating to about 5,301 km in NER have been approved for improvement. Out of this, 3,246 km road length has been approved for development of an Economic Corridor in the North East.

Besides, the Central Government has undertaken a decision to complete several highway projects in the State by March 2019 reviewing about 300 ongoing projects pan India.

In addition to other programmes, the Centre has approved a scheme named North East Special Infrastructure Development Scheme (NESIDS), a 100 per cent Central Sector Scheme to be implemented till March 2020. A sum of Rs 1,600 crore has been allocated for funding physical infrastructure.

The commitment to road connectivity to North East was visible with inauguration of India’s longest rail-cum-road bridge in Assam by the Prime Minister in December 2018.

India’s Longest Bridge

The 4.94-km-long double-decker bridge over the Brahmputra river at Bogibeel near Dibrugarh in Assam, which begins at Dibrugarh in Assam, which begins at Dibrugarh and ends at Dhemaji districts of Assam, will remove communication bottlenecks to several districts of Arunachal Pradesh.

The bridge is part of the infrastructure projects planned by the government to improve logistics along the border in Arunachal Pradesh. The road distance from Dibrugarh to Itanagar will be reduced by 150 km and the railway travel distance between these two points will shorten by 705 km due to the bridge.

In May 2017, the Prime Minister had inaugurated the country’s longest bridge over the Lohit river in Assam – the 9.15 km-long bridge, named after Dadasaheb Phalke awardee and legendary lyricist-singer Bhupen Hazarika who hailed from Sadiya.

The bridge, built at a cost of Rs 2,056 crore, is 3.55 km longer than the Bandra-Worli Sea link. The length of the bridge, including viaducts, is 9.15 km with 7.3 km approach road from the Dhola side and 12.5 km from side.

The Prime Minister has stressed that North East’s links with Southeast Asia will accelerate its progress. “In turn, a connected Northeast will be a bridge to ASEAN-India ties of our dreams,” he has said.

Braving challenges the Government is working hard to improve connectivity in the region and North East is set for giant strides.








Roads are the lifeline for any country and the lifeline needs to be better and stronger to improve mobility, boost economy and generate jobs. Through the road network in India has increased from 3.99 lakh kilometers in 1951 to 56.03 lakh kilometers in 2016, a large share of them are less than two-lane while more than 70 per cent of the National Highways (NHs) in India are either two-lane or less.

The first major policy push to widen the NHs was made in 1998 during Atal Bihari Vajpayee government by launching the National Highways Development Programme (NHDP), which had two major components of 5,846 kilometers of Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) connecting the four metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata and 7,142 kilometers’ network connecting Srinagar to Kanyakumari and Silchar to Porbandar. These networks are known as North-South and East-West corridors.

The second big revolutionary decision to upgrade NHs was taken in October 2017 when the Central government approved the phase-I of Bharatmala Pariyojana covering 24,800 kilometers with an estimated expenditure of Rs3.85 lakh crore. The government has set March 2022 target for National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for completion of the programme.

The massive highway development programme has many firsts to its credit; starting from preparation of the plan to identifying the highway stretches and the new approach of building roads on new alignment. The Road Transport and Highways Ministry has termed as “crow flight” alignments.

One of the main reasons behind the decision to go for a massive revamp of country’s NH network was that the NHDP rolled out in 1998 had reached a certain level of maturity. It was essential to redefine road development and have a macro approach while planning expansion of the national highways network.

The Process

The government undertook a detailed study of the goods (cargo) movement between the high-density corridors scientifically after identifying the Origin-Destination. Since one of the main aims of the programme was to improve cargo traffic flow, a considered strategy was formulated to develop new Economic Corridors. Improved logistics movement has a force multiplier effect o the economy. The Origin-Destination study also considered the integration of economic corridors with the ongoing projects under NHDP.

This study brought out interesting facts of how different stretches of some corridors have infrastructure asymmetry. For example in the Mumbai-Kolkata corridor, a significant stretch passing through Odisha is two-laned and there are frequent lane changes as well. If this entire stretch is not upgraded to at-least uniform 4-lane facility, the traffic movement will not be smooth. This simply proved the point as to how and why there was a dire urgent need to address such asymmetry on corridors across the country.

Considering that in addition to development of new corridors and feeder routes, there was a need to improve the throughput of the road stretches already developed under the NHDP, the preparatory work focused on de-congesting stretches by building of bypasses, ring roads, developing multimodal logistics parks to enable freight aggregation and disaggregation and effective modal shifts.

Moreover, to cater to the need for infrastructure development in the border and coastal areas to India’s Export-Import (EXIM) trade, the highway development programme has provisioned for improving border roads based on strategic importance, particularly the ones connecting to trading points with India’s neighbours – Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan. The coastal road development and port-connectivity roads enhancement have been synergized with the Sagarmala programme.


  • Economic Corridors:

The origin-destination study which as commissioned with the aim of improving logistics efficiency identified 44 new Economic Corridors. Some of the these are Mumbai–Agra, Mumbai–Kolkata, Chennai-Madurai, Bilaspur-Delhi, Pune-Vijayawada, Indore-Jaipur and Ameristar–Jamnagar. The Economic Corridors are expected to carry 25 per cent of freight in the coming years. As per the plan, these corridors along with national corridors (GQ and North South and East West) would form India’s new Highway Grid. As per estimates, the National and Economic Corridors along with their inter-corridors and feeder routes would be able to carry 80 per cent of our freight traffic.

  • Inter Corridor and Feeder Routes:

The origin destination study also identified a network of shorter inter corridor routes connecting two existing corridors and feeder routes to the corridor network. These roads are expected to carry around 20 per cent of freight. The effectiveness of the corridors can he improved by development of the feeder routes.



  • Improvement in Efficiency of National Corridors:

Currently, the NHs including the GQ and North South and East West corridor carry nearly 35 per cent of India’s freight. All these stretches will be declared National Corridors. These stretches have shown high growth in traffic volumes by virtue of being the lifeline of India’s highway network. The average traffic in the six national corridors is more than 30,000 passenger car units (PCU). Under the Bharatmala programme, all these stretches will be widened to 6-8 lanes. In the past few years, these National Corridors have also developed choke points impacting logistics efficiency. So, to decongest and do away with these choke points, new Ring Roads and bypasses/ elevated corridors will be built. In addition, multimodal logistics parks will be developed at critical economic nodes along GQ and North South and East West corridors to enable efficient modal transfers, freight aggregation and disaggregation.

  • Development of Border and International Connectivity Roads:

Around 3,300 kilometers of border roads have been identified to be built and widened along the international border for their strategic importance. Around 2,000 kilometers of roads are required for connecting India’s major highway corridor to international trade pints to facilitate EXIM trade with Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

  • Development of Coastal and Port Connectivity Roads:

Under Bharatmala programme, about 2,100 kilometers of coastal roads have been identified to be built along the coast. These roads would boost both tourism and industrial development of the coastal region. These will also improve connectivity to ports to facilitate EXIM trade. A major focus will be to improve linkage to state government owned and private ports.

  • Development of Green-field Expressways:

Bharatmala programme also envisages building expressways close to the National and Economic Corridors where traffic has breached the 50,000 PCUs and there are multiple choke points. About 1,900 km of these stretches have been identified for development of green-field expressways. One such mega project connecting Delhi with Mumbai has started taking shape. Expressways have limited entry and exit points and there is no traffic signal or toll plaza on the main carriageway, which ensures seamless and faster traffic movement.

To ensure there is no procedural delay in approval and roll out of works, the government has empowered NHAI Board to take decision and approve projects NHAI Brad is an inter-ministerial entity, which has representation form Highways and Finance Ministries, Niti Aayog and the Highway Authority. The progress so far has been satisfactory.


Bharatmala Pariyojana once implemented, will enable improvement in efficiency of freight and passenger movement on NHs. The network, as identified under the Bharatmala network will cater to 80 per cent of the inter-district freight movement in the country. Moreover, the network will connect 550 districts in the country accounting for nearly 90 per cent of the nation’s GDP. Moreover, standardized wayside amenities on the corridors will come up, which will improve convenience of passenger movement significantly.

The development of economic corridors and the associated inter corridor and feeder routes will enable improvement in average speeds of vehicles by about 20-25 per cent. Initiative of building access controlled expressways with features of “closed tolling” system will further improve the average speeds on highways. Improvement in average speed of the freight vehicles will, in turn, have three major benefits: improved vehicle utilization resulting in faster breakeven and hence lower freight cost per tonne per kilometer; improvement in fuel efficiency of the vehicles due to lower idling time, resulting I lower freight cost and faster and reliable freight transit, leading to a reduction in average inventory carried in freight. The network once developed will enable a reduction of 5–6 per cent in the overall supply chain cots in the economy, the government has estimated.

In addition, upgradation of 24,800 km of NH network in the first phase is expected to generate roughly 10 crore main-days of employment during the construction phase and roughly 22 million permanent jobs driven by increased level of economic activities due to development of Economic Corridor network.

Funding for Programme

The government has estimated a total expenditure of about Rs 6.92 lakh crore including Rs 3.85 lakh crore for Bharatmala to complete all ongoing works. About one-third of the fund i.e. Rs 2.37 lakh crore will come from fuel cess and another Rs 60,000 crore will come as budgetary support. The NHAI has started the programme of monetizing already completed projects and it targets to generate about Rs 34,000 crore. This scheme is known as Toll Operate Transfer (TOT), which means completed stretches are bid out to private players for collecting toll for certain years. The private players make upfront payment to NHAI to get these works. They are responsible for maintenance of the highway stretches as well.

The government expects it will pump in about Rs 46,000 crore in the programme from its total toll collection. NHAI will borrow another Rs 2.09 lakh crore from market borrowing and the private investment is pegged at Rs 1.06 lakh crore.





It is about two years since UDAN was conceived. The Union government’s flagship regional connectivity scheme has, by now, become an important means for making low cost flying available to people in smaller Indian cities. In these two years, the scheme has brought first time air connectivity to people of 35 tier-II and tier-III cities (as on December 2018). As a new version of the scheme starts now to link tourist places and international destinations, it is time to look at the valuable lessons the scheme has thrown up for the civil aviation practitioners.

Since the last 10 years, air traffic has grown three folds in India and it has the potential to be among the global top three nations in terms of domestic and international passenger traffic. There is a need to promote the growth of the Indian aviation sector in a significant manner as the development of this sector has a multiplier effect on the economy. As per an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) study, the output multiplier and employment multiplier are 3.25 and 6.10, respectively. In 2016 Government of India launched National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) to provide an ecosystem for the harmonized growth of various aviation subsectors like airlines, airports, cargo, etc. The policy envisions creating an eco-system to make flying affordable for the masses and to enable 30 crore domestic ticketing by 2022 and 50 crore by 2027, and international ticketing to increase to 20 crores by 2027.

Making Air Travel Convenient

UDAN (Ude Ka Aam Naagrik) is a fulcrum under NCAP to make air travel convenient and affordable for the common man in small cities, and, through this, push regional growth. Currently, 70 per cent of air traffic in the country caters only to the metros. Since independence, India had only 67 airports with scheduled commercial operations till very recently. UDAN addresses the challenges relating to the issue of lack of infrastructure and affordability by upgrading the airports and cutting down on the cost of operations by extending various incentives to airlines and thus aiming air tickets affordable. The scheme is, therefore, crucial for ensuring that the Indian aviation sector’s success story touches one and all and the tier-II and tier-III cities also join the aviation revolution.

Since the launching of UDAN in 2017, 61 new sectors have been added till date enhancing the power of aviation network. More than a million passengers have travelled I these routes and the impact on the eco-system of aviation is tremendous by bringing first time flyers to the aviation market. New city pairs have been established by connecting smaller cities with metros jump starting the regional market.

UDAN works on an innovative model that cuts through the need to deploy huge resources and long gestation periods to make an airport operational the scheme provides for revival and upgradation of existing airstrips in small cities where UDAN operations would happen. To reduce the costs of operations for airlines, concessions from Centre, States and airport operators are extend. This new approach not only makes air services available for limited population bases in smaller towns, it also makes the services affordable for them.

Salient Feature of RCS-UDAN

  • The Regional Connectivity Scheme-UDAN intends to enable air operations n unnerved routes connecting regional areas, promote balanced regional growth and make flying affordable for the masses.
  • RCS-UDAN, which would be in operation for a period of 10 years, envisages providing connectivity through revival of existing air-strips and airports.
  • Financial stimulus in the form of concessions from Central and State governments and airport operators and the Viability Gap Funding to the selected airlines to kick-off operations from Unnerved/Underserved airports, so that the passengers fares are kept affordable.
  • RCS-UDAN is a demand driven scheme where the interested airlines and helicopter operators are selected through competitive bidding process.
  • The selected airline operator of RCS-UDAN would have to provide a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 40 RCS seats on the RCS flight for operations through fixed wing aircraft. All seats upto 13 passengers for helicopters will be considered as RCS seats.
  • The fare for one hour journey of approximately 500 km on a fixed wing aircraft of for a 30-minute journey on a helicopter would be approximately Rs. 2,500, with proportionate pricing for routes of different state length/flight duration.
  • On RCS route, the minimum frequency would be three and maximum of seven departures per week I other than priority areas.

The scheme is, however, fraught with implementation challenges. The initial focus of the scheme was to select airline operators through a bidding process that would be transparent and fair. It was the key to generate confidence among the airlines.

In the first two rounds of UDAN, 56 airports and 31 heliports have been added to India’s aviation map. The Scheme is moving toward third round of awarding routes to connect the iconic tourism sites and priority areas to contribute to the growth of tourism and commerce. Many awarded routes would connect remote areas of north-eastern States as well as the left wing extremism affected areas. Be it Guwahati to Passighat (Arunachal Pradesh) or Dehradun to Pithoragarh (Uttarakhand), travelling time would reduce so dramatically that it would transform the lives of the people in the region. Affordable airfare not only facilitates traveling for trade but also for tourism and medical facilities. However, awarding of routes under the scheme is only the beginning of the journey. Preparedness of airports, readiness of airlines and involvement of State Governments are equally important. There are many actors who have to fulfill their responsibilities in tandem.

Implementation Mechanisms

Though most State Governments came forward and signed MoUs with Government of India, their limited capacities demanded hand holding support for professional organization. Civil aviation sector is a tedious process. Safety and security are paramount and the operations have to comply with required regulations. To address these challenges, the implementation mechanism needs to be strengthened. Airport Authority of India (AAI) is providing necessary support to State Government in developing the airports, documentation for licensing, procurement of security and fire tender equipment, etc. In some Defence airports, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been worked out in consultation with Ministry of Defence. Though it took considerable amount of time, UDAN has been successful in motivating private airports to participate and extend benefits to UDAN flights. Today, airports like Nanded in Maharashtra and Vidyanagar in Karnataka have became shining examples under UDAN. Plans are already afoot to take the regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) for tourist destinations and expanding the scheme for international reroutes based on the requests from the State Government. This initiative would open more challenges as well as opportunities which need to be dealt with prudently.

Implementation challenges not only involve monitoring and assisting for revival of airports but also facilitation for obtaining Air operator permits for selected airlines and helicopter operators under the scheme. Few small airline operators who have bid under UDAN are facing teething problems due to their limited capacities. It is imperative for UDAN to work with small airlines which have potential to take the regional scheme to remote areas. Availability of qualified crew is also a major challenge for airlines and significant efforts are needed to create a pool of skilled professionals.

A positive outcome of UDAN also includes the regulatory framework for ‘no-frill’ airports and ‘aircraft-centric security’ approach which has cut down the cost of infrastructure and operations that will help sustainability of air connectivity to smaller cities. Desirable changes in the scheme have to meet the increasing aspirations and challenge in future. UDAN is poised to offer wings to the common man to fly, literally.


The Government of India is aggressively pushing for the development of inland waterway routes as part of an integrated transport network strategy.

On November 12, 2018, the Prime Minister dedicated India’s first riverine multimodal terminal on river Ganga (National Waterway-1) at Varanasi to the nation. On the same day, he also received the country’s first container cargo that travelled on river Ganga (National Waterway-1) from Kolkata to Varanasi.

The twin events not only marked watershed moments in the development of Inland Water Transport (IWT) in India but also broke grounds for a spurt I business activities on National Waterway (NW-1) as is evident with a slew of cargo owners like PepsiCo, Emami Agrotech, IFFCO Fertilizers, Babur India that have come on board inland waterways.

106 new national waterways were announced under the National Waterway Act, 2016. With the five existing National Waterway (NW), the addition of the new ones takes the total number to 111 in the country. Out of the newly announced waterways, development work is in full swing on eight of them.

The Union Finance Minister, in his Budget Speech for 2014-15, delivered on July 10, 2014, had announced Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP0 on National Waterway-1 (NW-1) to enable commercial navigation on Varanasi-Haldia stretch of river Ganga. Soon after, began the capacity augmentation on NW-1 under the JMVP, with the technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank at an estimated cost of ` 5369 crore. In four years, close to ` 2000 crores worth of work is already on ground on National Waterway-1. Of the three multimodal terminals being built on river Ganga under JMVP, the one at Varansi is already operational and second in Sahibganj (Jharkhand) will be ready by mid-2019.

Jal Marg Vikas Project (National Waterway-1, River Ganga)

On NW-1, Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) is being implemented for capacity augmentation on Haldia-Varanasi stretch for a distance of 1,390 km, with technical and financial assistance from the World Bank.

NW-1, along with the proposed Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor and NH-2, constitute the Eastern Transport Corridor of India connecting the National Capital Region (NCR) with the eastern and North-eastern states and will function as a link to Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal and other east and Southeast Asian countries through the Kolkata Port and Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route.

In fact, on October 1, 2018, completing a month-long voyage from Bihar to Assam through waterways, 1233 tonnes of fly ash reached Pandu, Guwahati, marking one of the longest hauls in Inland Water Sector (IWT) movement in the country. 1233 tonnes of bagged flyash (by product from National Thermal Power Corporation’s (NTPC) Kahalgaon power plant, Bihar) bound for Pandu Inland Port in Assam had sailed on September 30, 2018 to cover a distance of 2085 KMs.

This was an integrated movement through three Waterways (NW-1, river Ganga), the Indo Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route and (NW-2, river Brahmaputra).

The movement has evinced confidence and interest in the inland waterways industry and vessel operators as more than 15 such pilot movements have been successfully completed lately on various stretches of NW        s. In July, IWAI launched a dedicated portal ‘FOCAL” to connect cargo owners and shippers with real time data on availability of vessels.

A developed IWT will not only augment the overall transport capacity of the country, but will also help correct the transport modal ix that impose huge logistics costs on the India economy. The costs of logistics in India, at 15 per cent of GDP, is about twice those in the United States. The logistic share of waterways in the USA is 8.3 per cent, in Europe (7 per cent), in China (8.7 per cent), while in India it is only about 1.5 per cent. India has 14,500 kilometers of navigable inland waterways.

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), the nodal agency under the Ministry of Shipping is mandated to make National Waterways commercially navigable. IWAI aims to increase the cargo transportation through IWT on National Waterways in the country from 55 million toones currently to 150 million tonnes by 2023.

According to a World Bank economic analysis, approximately 1.5 lakh direct and indirect employment opportunities will be created due to interventions under the Jal Marg Vikas Project.

JMVP is a wholly inclusive, economic and environment friendly game changer intervention on river Ganga. Along with giving a fillip to trade and commerce, it will help rejuvenate the river. The project not only creates an alternative, cost effective mode of transport but will create ‘Room for River’ which has proved to be an effective flood mitigating and river conservancy measure internationally, especially in low lying Netherlands.


Vessel Design

In August, 2018, IWAI made public 13 standardized state-of-the-art ship designs suitable for large barge haulage on river Ganga (National Waterway-1).

This marked attaining of a critical milestone in the growth of the country’s Inland Water Transport (IWT) sector as it will help overcome the unique navigation challenges river Ganga throws up due to its complex river morphology, hydraulics, acute bends, shifting channels, meanders and currents. It will serve as an enabler for the domestic shipbuilding industry working on inland vessels and open huge possibilities for cargo and passenger movement national Wateray-1.

The specially designed vessels will navigate on low drafts with high carrying capacity which are at the same time, environment friendly. For the shipbuilding industry, the new designs will translate into a savings of Rs 30-50 lakhs in the building of a vessel. Available free on the IWAI website, the designs will remove ambiguity on the class and type of vessels that can sail on river Ganga with efficient maneuverability. They will help shipyards build vessels of standardized dimensions and capacity and make them available off the shelf besides developing the ‘sale and purchase’ market for inland vessels. The designs will lead to reduced fuel costs and in turn lesser logistics costs.

These vessels will sail even in depths of about two metres carrying about 350 cars on a five deck car carrier. Some of the designs would enable movement of bulk cargo carriers with capacity of 2500 tonnes at three metres depth, thereby removing almost 150 truckloads of pressure from the road or one full rail rake with the plying of just one such vessel.

The new designs for various categories of dry and liquid bulk carrier, Ro-Ro vessels, car carrier, container carrier, LNG carrier, Tug Barge flotilla (Table 1) have been made by M/s DST, Germany which specializes in low draft and high carrying capacity vessels.teh model testing of these designs were done at Duisburg, Germany. The new designs will obviate the dependence of Indian ship builders on foreign ship designs for IWT and prove to be a boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government.

IWAI at Social Congregations

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has been working hard towards facilitating safe passenger movements at Kumbh-Mela, 2019.

Kumbh-Mela is scheduled to be held at Sangam, Prayagraj from January 15 to March 15, 2019. IWAI has set up four floating terminals, one each at, Kilaghat, SarasWati Ghat, Naini Bridge and Sujawan Ghat. Further, two IWAI vessels namely CL Kasturba and SL Kamla will be deployed for pilgrim movement.

Fairway with navigational aids will be maintained between Prayagraj and Varanasi with targeted least available depth (LAD) of 1 m. Five temporary jetties at Chatnag, Sirsa, Sitamarhi, Vindhyachal and Chunar have also been set up for embankment and dismemberment of passengers.

As part of the development of NW-1 (Prayagraj to Haldia) IWAI is making substantial interventions to make navigable the Prayagraj-Varanasi stretch of river Ganga. This will ensure seamless and safe movement of vessels.

In the past, IWAI has provided similar facilities of ferrying pilgrims and channel marking at Ganga Sagar Mela in West Bengal and Prakash and Prakash Parv at Patna.

Promoting River Tourism

International publication ‘Condé Nast Traveller’ listed Ganga cruise as one of the ‘six river cruises to take in 2017’

It placed the luxury cruise vessel Ganges Voyager II which sails on the Ganga from Kolkata to Varanasi, in the league of cruises on Mekong and Yangtze in China, Amazon in South America, Volga in Russia and Irrawaddy in Myanmar. Conde Nast’s endorsement of Ganga as a cruise destination is a shot in the arm for river tourism in the country.

IWAI facilitat4tes cruise operations on NW-1 (river Ganga) from Kolkata to Varanasi in collaboration with private cruise operators. The facilities provided by IWAI include navigation aids like night navigation facility, embarking and disembarking at designated locations, facilitating expeditious crossing of Farakka navigation Lock, pilotage, and assistance industries.

In addition to becoming one of the principal cargo movement routes in India, this stretch on NW-1 has goo potential for river cruise tourism.

Other National Waterway:

National Waterway-2

River Brahmaputra from Bangladesh Border to Sadiya (891 km) as declared as National Waterway-2 in 1988. The waterway is being developed and operationalized with fairway, navigational aids, terminals with mechanized handling facilities for cargo vessels.

Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route

Day to day protocol permissions are issued by IWAI to barges to sail in the designated port of calls in India and Bangladesh. This Protocol is for mutually beneficial arrangement for the use of waterways for commerce and passage of goods between two places in one country thr4ough the territory of the other. The Protocol as first signed in 1972 and is presently valid up to 05th June 2020.

NW-3 has been fully developed for commercial navigation, while NW-4 and NW-5 are being developed with infrastructure of Indian Waterways.

Development of 8 new National Waterways taken up during 2017-18 as:

  • Gandak River with a length of 277 km has been declared as National Waterway – 37. It is located from Bhaisaslotal Barrage near Triveni Ghat to Hajipur in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Rupnarayan River with a length of 72 km has been declared as National Waterway – 86. It is located from Pratappur to Geonkhali in West Bengal.
  • Alappuzha – kottayam – Athirampuzha Canal with a length of 38 km has been declared as National Waterway – 9. It is located from Boat jetty, Alappuzha to Athirampuzha market in Kerala.
  • Sundarbans Waterways with a length of 201 km has been declared as National Waterway – 97 in West Bengal.
  • Key cargo commodities on Barak River NW 16 are Construction material, Rice, Coal, paper and Goods. The project cost is INR 76.01 Cr.
  • Cumberjua Canal (NW27) – 17 km: Confluence of Cumberjua and Zuari rivers near Cortalim ferry terminal to confluence of Cumberjua and Mandovi rivers near Sao Martias Vidhan Parishad.
  • Mandovi River (NW68) – 41 km: Bridge at Usgaon to confluence of mandovi River with Arabian Sea at Reis magos.
  • Zuari River (NW111) – 50km: Sanvordem Bridge to Mormogao Port.

Achievements of major Ports

The Government is regularly monitoring the port projects for development/expansion of the major Ports. Some of the major policy and procedural step s and achievements in the recent past are:

  • To bring the major ports at par with the International standards, a study on Benchmarking of efficiency and productivity of major ports was carried out. The study has identified 116 port-wise action points initiatives, of which 91 initiatives have already been completed.
  • A new Special purpose Vehicle, namely Indian Port Rail Corporation Ltd. Has been set up as a public limited company to undertake last mile rail connectivity projects in major ports so as to improve their handling capacities and efficiency.
  • Average Turn-Round Time, which was 82.28 hrs during 2016-17, came down to 64.43 hrs.
  • Average Output per Ship Berthday improved to 15333 tonnes during 2017-18.
  • Major Ports handled 679.37 million tonnes cargo during 2017-18.
  • Around 92 MTPA capacity was added in major ports during 2017-18. Total capacity of major ports reached to the level of 1451.19 MTPA during 2017-18.
  • Operating Surplus of major ports increased by Rs. 916.22 crores during 2017-18.

Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission (SPMRM)

“Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Rurban Mission (SPMRM)” was launched by the prime Minister on February 22, 2016, form Kurubhat in Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh. The aim of the Mission was to develop rural growth clusters in all States and Union Territories (UTs) so that overall development in the region can be triggered. These clusters are to provide economic activities, developing skills and local entrepreneurship and providing infrastructure amenities.

As per information given by the Minister of State for Rural Development, Shri Ram Kripal Yadav in Lok Sabha on December 13, 2018, the SPMRM is under implementation across the country. Out of the mandated 300 clusters, 295 clusters have been identified and approved across 29 States and 6 Union Territories. With an outlay of Rs. 5142.08 crore, this unique programme is designed to deliver catalytic interventions to rural areas on the threshold of growth. There is a funding support of up to 30 per cent of the estimated investment for each Rurban cluster, given as Critical Gap Funding (CGF), while 70 per cent of the funds is mobilized by the States through convergence with synergic State and Central programmes as well as private investment and institutional funding. Upon being re-classified as a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, the CGF is now shared between the Centre and the State in a ratio of 60:40 for Plain area States and 90:10 for Himalayan and NE States.

Further, through intense engagements with the States, 232 Integrated Cluster Action Plans (ICAPs), which are the blue prints of investment for each cluster, have been approved. Rs. 1314 core of Central Share of CGF, Rs. 327.91 crore as corresponding State Share and Rs. 103.25 crore of Administrative Funding, has been released to 29 States and 6 Union Territories over the last four financial years. In FY 2015-16, administrative funds of Rs. 32.05 crore has been released. In FY 2016-17, the BE of Rs. 300 crore was doubled at the RE stage to reach 100 per cent expenditure, with a total release of Rs 600 crore. In FY 2017-18, Rs. 553.26 crore was released to States/UTs against the revised estimate of Rs. 600 crore. In the current FY 2018-19, 236.90 crore has been released, against a revised estimate (RE) of Rs. 551.03 crore.

Substantial part of the works identified for development in the clusters is focused on provision of basic and economic amenities. Provision of basic amenities in a cluster typically comprise; provision of 24/7 Water Supply to all households, Solid and Liquid Waste Management facilities at the household and cluster level, provision of Inter and Intra village roads within the cluster, adequate Street Lights and Public Transport facilities using green technologies. Provision of Economic Amenities in a cluster comprise various thematic areas in the sectors of Agri Services and Processing, Tourism, and Skill development to promote Small and Medium Scale Enterprises.


      Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT)

The Government of India launched the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) with the aim of providing basic civic amenities like water supply, sewerage, urban transport, parks as to improve the quality of life for all especially the poor and the disadvantaged. The focus of the Mission is on infrastructure creation that has a direct link to provision of better services to the cutinizes.

The purpose of “AMRUT” mission is to (i) ensure that every household has access to a tap with assured supply of water and a sewerage connection (ii) increase the amenity value of cities by developing greenery and well maintained open spaces e.g. parks and (iii) reduce pollution by switching to public transport or constructing facilities for non-motorized transport e.g. walking and cycling. The Mission aimed to cover 500 cities that include all cities and towns with a population of over one lakh with notified municipalities. Total outlay for AMRUT is Rs. 50,000 crores for five years form FY 2015-16 to FY 2019-20 and the Mission is being operated as a Central Sponsored Scheme. The project fund is divided among States/UTs in an equitable formula in which 50:50 weightage is being given to the urban population of each State/UT and number of statutory towns.

Mission Components

The components of the AMRUT consist of capacity building, reform implementation, water supply, sewerage and septage management, storm water drainage, urban transport and development of green spaces and parks. During the process of planning, the Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) strive to include some smart features in the physical infrastructure components. The details of the Mission components are given below:

Water Supply i. Water supply systems including argumentation of existing water supply, water treatment plants and universal metering. ii. Rehabilitation of old water supply systems, including treatment plants. iii. Rejuvenation of water bodies specifically for drinking water supply and recharging of ground water. iv. Special water supply arrangement for difficult areas, hill and coastal cities, including those having water quality problems (e.g. arsenic, fluoride).

Sewerage i. Decentralized, networked underground sewerage systems, including augmentation of existing sewerage systems and sewage treatment plants. ii. Rehabilitation of old sewerage system and treatment plants. iii. Recycling of water for beneficial purposes and reuse of waste water.

Septage i. Faecal Sludge Management- cleaning, transportation and treatment in a cost effective manner. ii. Mechanical and biological cleaning of sewers and septic tanks and recovery of operational cost in full.

Storm Water Drainage i. Construction and improvement of drains and storm water drains in order to reduce and eliminate flooding.

Urban Transport i. Ferry vessels for inland waterways (excluding port/bay infrastructure) and buses. ii. Footpaths/ walkways, sidewalks, foot over-bridges and facilities for non-motorized transport (e.g. bicycles).

Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation-Recent Milestones

  • National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG):

Ganga Rejuvenation:- Under Namami Gange programme, a total of 254 projects worth Rs 24,672 crore have been sanctioned for various activities such as sewage infrastructure, ghats & crematoria development, river front development, river surface cleaning, institutional development, biodiversity conservation, afforestation, rural sanitation, and public participation.

For River Front Development, works at 145 ghats and 53 crematoria are in progress and expected to he completed by March 2019.

On rural sanitation front, all 4465 villages on the bank of river Ganga have been made Open Defecation Free (ODF) and 10,83,688 Individual Household Toilets have been constructed by Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MoDWS). NMCG has released Rs. 829.0 crore to MoDWS for this.

Total 6 no. of projects on biodiversity conservation and restoration of aquatic biodiversity of river Ganga including Dolphin, Ghariyal, Otter, water birds and fish & fisheries have been taken up, out of which 2 projects have been completed. Rs. 190.3 crores has been sanctioned to the State Forest Departments of Uttrakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West-Bengal for the year 2018-19, as a part of the afforestation program in the Ganga basin.

During the financial year 2018-19 (till 30.11.2018), National Mission for Clean Ganga has released Rs. 1532.59 crore to the states, Central Public Sector Undertakings for the implementation of the programme, including expenditure incurred for establishment.

  • Dam Projects:-

Shahpur Kandi Dam Project: An agreement was reached between Punjab and J&K states under the aegis of MoWR, RD&GR at New Delhi on 8th September, 2018 to resume works of Shahpur Kandi Dam project in Declared as a National Project. The Union Cabinet on 6th December, 2018 has approved the proposal of this Ministry for extending a Central Assistance of Rs. 485.38 crore (for irrigation component) for implementation of this project. The project would be completed by June 2022.

This project will help in creation of additional irrigation potential of 5000 ha in Punjab State and 32173 ha in J&K State and also efficient management of 1.18 Lac ha area under UBDC system in Punjab. Consequently, this project would help minimizing some of the water of the River Ravi which at resent is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream.

Lakhwar Project: A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on 28th August 2018 Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Shipping and Road Transport & Highways and Chief Ministers of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh for the construction of Rs. 3966.51 crore Lakhwar Multi-Purpose project in the Upper Yamuna Basin. The Lakhwar project envisages construction of a 204 m high concrete dam across river Yamuna near Loharri village in Dehradun district of Uttarakhand with a live storage capacity of 330.66 MCM. this storage will provide irrigation for 33,780 hectares land and availability of 78.83 MCM water for domestic, drinking and industrial use in the six basin states. The project will also generate 300 MW of power. The project is to be executed by M/s Uttarakhand jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (UJVL).

Completion of balance works of North Koel Reservoir Project, Bihar and Jharkhand:

The Ministry of Water Resources, RD & GR has taken up the work on completion of balance works of North Koel Reservoir Project, Bihar and Jharkhand which was halted in 1993. The Union Cabinet in August 2017 has approved the proposal at an estimated cost of Rs 1622.27 crore during three financial years from the start of the project.

The project aims to provide additional irrigation to 39,801 hectares of land annually in the drought prone areas of Aurangabad & Gaya districts of Bihar, Palamu & Garhwa districts of Jharkhand.

Dam Rehabilitation and Improvement Programme (DRIP):

In the year 2018-19 Dam Break Analysis were conducted on 38 Dams for preparation of Inundation maps. DHARMA, a web based dam inventory management software has been completed.

  • Interlinking of Rivers (ILRs):

National Perspective Plan (NPP) proposals:

Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) of three priority links have been completed viz. Ken-Betwa link project (Phase-I&II), Damanganga-Pinjal link project and Par-Tapi-Narmada link project. And the project report is ready for implementation.



Intra-State link proposals:-

DPRs of four intra-state link projects viz., Burhi Gandak-Noon-Baya-Ganga link and Kosi-Mechi link of Bihar State, Ponnaiyar-Palar link of Tamil Nadu and Wainganga (Gosikhurd)-Nalganga (Purna/Tapi) link project of Maharashtra have been completed and send to respective States. Preparation of DPRs of Damanganga (Ekdare)-Godavari and Damanganga (Ekdare)-Godavari and Damanganga (Vagh/Val)-Vaitarna-Godavari (Kadva Dev) link projects of Maharashtra are under progress.

Proposal for Diversion of Godavari waters upto Cauvery Basin:

As per the Planning of the Peninsular Component of the National Perspective Plan (NPP) about 20,769 MCM of water from Mahanadi and Godavari rivers is to be transferred through the nine link system namely (i) Mahanadi – Godavari link (ii) Inchampalli – Nagarjunasager link (iii) Inchampalli – Pulichintala link (iv) Polavaram – Vijayawada link (implemented by Government of Andhra Pradesh) (v) Almatti – Pennar link (vi) Srisailam- – Pennar Link (vii) Nagarjunasagar – Somasila link (viii) Somasila – Grand Anicut link and (ix) Cauvery – Vaigai – Gundar link to Krishan Pennar, Cauvery, Vaigai and Gundar basins.


India’s urban population was over 31 per cent in 2011 census. This is expected to rise to 40 per cent by 2030 and 50 per cent by 2050, i.e. it will cross 800 million. As per 2011 census, urban India contributed 63 percent to the GDP, it is projected to grow over 75 per cent by 2030.

Due to high densities of people and assets, cities’ vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, disasters and conflicts increases manifold. However, when planned and managed well, citie3s become engines of growth and sustained development.

Challenges to Urban India

The Prime Minister saw the challenges of urbanization as opportunities to drive the economy forward–investments in infrastructure will create jobs, improve ease of living and employ citizens to best of their abilities in the service of the nation. Therefore, a three-level strategy, as highlighted in diagrain-1 has been envisaged.

  1. At the first level, poverty alleviation, affordable housing and sanitation were the three biggest challenges. Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihood Mission (DAY-NULM), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U) and Swachh Bharat Mission-Urban (SBM-U) implemented in all the urban local bodies (ULBs).
  2. At the second level, basic infrastructure like water supply, sewerage/septage projects and green arks became the focus. These sectors required economies of scale and are being implemented in 500 cities, with 1,00,000 and above population through Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). This covers over 60 per cent of urban population.
  3. Finally at the third level, 100 cities are being developed under Smart Cities Mission (SCM) to address the issue of ease of living by evolving new paradigms of urban governance with communities at the core and increased use of digital technology to improve the urban infrastructure, services and utilization of resources.

What do we mean by Smart Cities?

Smart Cities Mission was launched on June 25, 2015 by the Prime Minister of India.

Smart cities in common parlance are understood to be cities that use appropriate technologies for improving quality of lives of their citizens. However, there is o fixed definition of a smart city. Our Smart Cities are woven around the following principles:

  1. Citizen at the Core: Citizens and the communities are at the centre of development; 2. More from Less: Being conscious of resource constraints, they have to generate more impact/outcomes from use of less resources- energy, finance and others; 3. Cooperative and Competitive Federalism: Cities are selected through competition in two stage challenges at State and Central levels; 4. Integration, Innovation, Sustainability: It is not merely about the use of technology, but creation of integrated infrastructure and services. 5. Technology is the Mans, and Not the Goal: Careful selection of technologies, relevant to the context of particular cities, built around specific needs of their communities is important of the cities to work out solutions; and 6. Inclusiveness is a Guiding Philosophy: Cities are for the people and hence they have to be built around the principles of inclusiveness. Broadly, Smart Cities address three core issues: Live-ability, Economic-ability and Sustain-ability.

A comprehensive exercise of citizen engagement laid the foundation for preparing the Smart City Proposals (SCPs) for participating in national level Challenge. The major issues which confront urban areas as expressed by most citizens were: urban mobility, affordable housing, water and waste-water management, sanitation, safety and security, health and education, and energy security. These aspects are linked to how citizens rate the quality of life in the cities.

The power of cities to drive economic growth has been well researched and accepted Creating a better investment climate, enabling creation of jobs as per needs of available talent, attracting more investment and talent, breeding innovation, reducing levels of unemployment are some of the important aspirations of smart cities.

While cities invest in infrastructure, products and services for providing a better quality of life to their citizens and create robust economies for sustained growth, they have to be conscious of sustainability. Such development is not in a fixed state of harmony, but requires a dynamic equilibrium in which everyday decisions on technology, infrastructure, processes, and investments are taken in a manner which balances both present and future concerns of the society. Smart cities promote sustainable development through different initiatives.

Smart Cities Mission Strategy

Broadly, the Mission tries to meet the major goals highlighted earlier through a two-fold strategy: 1. Area based Development, which focuses on development of world class localities within cities to act as replicable models through redevelopment, retrofitting tor green development, and 2. Pan City development, wherein cities identify few key areas of intervention with use of digital technologies to create impacts on basic infrastructure and services with an intent to improve quality of life for their citizens. This two-fold approach is depicted in diagram 2:

Smart Cities Mission Evolution

100 Smart Cities have been selected across all States and Union Territories of India. The selection of these 100 cities was done in four different rounds, as illustrated in diagram 3:

These smart cities have proposed to execute 5, 151 projects worth Rs 2,05,2018 crores in 5 years from their respective dates of selection. Financial innovation is built in the design of their capital investment plans. The distribution of funding envisaged from different sources is as follows: Central and State government: Rs. 93,553 cr (45 per cent), Convergence funding from other missions, programs of the Central/State Governments and/or ULBs: Rs. 42,088 cr (21 per cent), Funds from PPP Rs. 41,022 er (21 per cent), Loans/Debt Rs. 9,843 cr (4 per cent), Own Sources Rs. 2,644 cr (1 per cent), Other Sources: Rs. 15,930 cr (8 per cent). Projects under the Mission fall under multiple sectors. Some of the key sectors and their proportion within the overall project portfolio is as diagram 4:

Technology as a Means, and not the End

Technology as mentioned earlier, is a means to an end. This is quite evident from the experience of Smart Cities Mission. Every Smart City under the Mission will have a Smart City Centre (also referred to as Integrated Command and Control Centre). This is and will be the city’s brain and nervous system where digital technologies are integrated to social, physical and environmental aspects of the city to provide centralized monitoring and decision making. In a very short period, the results are encouraging. Rajkot recorded an increase in on-line issuance of birth/death certificates; and through surveillance, crime rate has gone down. There is an improvement in traffic challans in Ahmedabad. Pune has installed flood sensors at key points around the city which feed data to the Smart city centre thereby enabling timely warning and response mechanism. In Vishakhapatnam, CCTV and GPS enabled buses are being tracked online through the Smart City Centre. Bhopal has seen a rise in its property tax collections and is able to track its transport services online.

Quality of Life and Economy: Impact

Smart cities’ projects are not only promoting sustainable development but also helping create vibrant, inclusive, healthy and collaborative cities, thus enhancing quality of life. Some of them are mentioned in diagram 5.

The Mission promotes mixed land-use in area-based developments as proximity and density reduce the per capita costs of providing and maintaining infrastructure and services, while creating knowledge spill-overs and specialization that hugely enhance the urban productivity. Smart Cities are implementing projects with a strong focus on economic returns. The primary focus of initiatives relating to local economic development is on commercial and retail activities, with a strong focus on market redevelopment projects and the new construction of offices, homes and allied institutions such as convention centres, etc., as part of mixed-use development. Few other project interventions being implemented by Smart Cities include setting up of skill development centres, incubation centres and vending zones.

Innovation as Key Driver

The Smart Cities Mission aspires to build the right partnerships and networks, create enabling environments for engagement, and put in place an ecosystem which breeds innovation. Recognizing the role of Start-ups, the Smart Cities Mission will work to create an innovation eco-system in Smart Cities through SPIRIT–Smart Cities Promoting Innovation Research and Incubation in Technology. It is an initiative in collaboration with Atal Innovation Mission (AIM) and Star-up India program harnessing the strengths of the three initiatives. This will foster creation of an eco-system for innovations in Smart Cities, enabling local area development harnessing technology and providing boost to the economy. Another important area of transformation is the digital payments space.

Impact on Sustainability

Smart Cities have proposed investments to ensure assured electricity supply with at least 10 per cent of the Smart City’s energy requirement coming from Solar Energy. Diu has become the first city to completely switch over to solar power during the day-time. Many other cities have executed projects on renewable energy including solar and wind energy. Smart Cities have identified initiatives to strengthen their distribution systems through Smart Metering. Promotion of energy efficient green buildings and green transport options to reduce need for electricity are some other initiatives taken up by Smart Cities.

Key Enablers

Smart Governance, improved urban finance, capacity building and technology driven innovation are key enablers in the performance of the smart cities. These are discussed in following paras.



Smart Governance

Smart Cities leverage ICT based technologies and digitalization to make governance citizen-friendly and cost effective; bring about accountability and transparency; provide services without having to go to municipal offices; form e-groups to listen to people and obtain feedback; and use online monitoring of programs and activities with the aid of online tools. By now, 13 Smart Cities have operationalised ICCCs; and work is in progress in another 49.

Smart Cities Mission aims to address barriers in data driven governance through ‘Data Smart Cities’, an evolving policy framework on data for smart cities, which aims to be a catalyst for the entire eco-system comprising of people, processes and technology. Cities like Pune and Surat have started publishing data sets through City Data Portals and Smart Cities Mission intends to unlock civic data for all 100 cities.

Making ULBs financially self-sufficient is very important for sustainable development. The Ministry started credit rating of cities, which has been completed in 465 cities. The Ministry has incentivized ULBs through cash incentive of Rs. 13 crore for every Rs. 100 crore of municipal bonds issued, equivalent to 2 per cent interest subvention. So far, Smart Cities of Pune (Rs.200 crore) and Indore (Rs.140 crore), Bhopal (Rs.175 crore), Amaravati (Rs.2,000 crore), Hyderabad (Rs.395 crore) and Visakhapatnam (Rs. 80 crore) have raised significant amount of money through Municipal Bonds. Cities are implementing projects in PPP mode for Housing, Waste-to-energy, Solar Rooftop, Public Bike Sharing, Parking Management, Smart Cards and Transport Hubs.

Capacity Building and Knowledge Management:

The Ministry has launched the Cities Investment To Innovate, Integrate and Sustain (CITIIS) Challenge in collaboration with the French Development Bank (AFD). AFD will provide investment support of EUR 100 million to selected cities in key sectors of Sustainable Mobility, Public Open Spaces, Urban Governance & ICT and Social & Organization Innovation in Low-Income Settlements. The Mission would select at least 15 projects through CITIIs Challenge.

India Smart Cities Fellowship & Internship Program has been launched to engage brilliant youth with the Mission. This will promote knowledge management within the Mission and provide young professionals with an opportunity to experience various aspects of urban planning and governance.

Smart Net is an initiative to support the development of cities across India and to create a resource-rich ecosystem of learning, sharing and disseminating for city managers and primary stakeholders in the urban transformation of India.

National Urban Innovation Hub

A new entity titled the ‘National Urban Innovation Hub’ (NUIH) – is being proposed at the national level to consolidate existing resources and to expand the footprint off innovation development and capacity building for the urban sector. NUIH would catalyze the creation of an enabling ecosystem for transformation of the urban sector through a culture of continuous and comprehensive innovation. NUIH will anchor the National Smart Cities Capacity Building Program to produce empowered functionaries and stronger institutions.

NUIH will be powered by the National Urban Innovation Stack (NUIS). The NUIS is envisaged to provide the foundational components that are required across various urban programs. NUIS is a nationally-shared digital infrastructure usable by the Government, both at Centre and States and across public and private sectors.

Mission Progress

Over the last 3 years, following the launch of Smart Cities’ Mission guidelines, by the Prime Minister on 25th June 2015, all 100 cities have been selected through Challenge process, all of them have established the Special purpose Vehicles (SPVs) to support implementation of the Mission. All of them have hired Project Management Consultants (PMCs) to design and develop projects for implementation in multiple sectors covering smart roads, water supply, heritage and place making, smart IT and communication, app based citizen service delivery system etc.

As on 31st December, 2018, total 2,563 projects worth Rs.1,02,027 crore have been tendered; out of this 1,842 projects worth about Rs.59,336 crores are under implementation. Most of them will be completed in the next 18 months. Work has been completed in the next 18 months. Work has been completed in 587 projects worth over Rs 10,817 crore. In October, 2017, the number of projects tendered was worth Rs 21,760 crore, which has increased by more than 300 per cent, Work Order had been issued for projects worth Rs.11,460 in October, 2017; this has increased by around 400 per cent. As more and ore projects get implemented, we will notice increased impact on the lives of the citizens.

Way Forward

At the start of the mission, one of the biggest challenges was to create an institutional framework at city level. It is for the first time that city level SPVs have been created for comprehensive urban development in India. Now, these cities have to build capacity at city level to take up innovative technology solutions.

A major challenge is to build urban finance capacities in order for cities to be able to leverage grants being provided by the governments. Innovative financing models like issuance of municipal bonds, developing PPP projects and formulating land value capture finance (VCF) policies are required. The cities have taken the first step by leveraging the government grant by 2-2 ½ times (average) in their Smart City Proposals (SCPs).

The importance of standardization in the context of development of Smart Cities cannot be ignored. Lack of standards results in problems of vendor lock-in and solution silos. The Mission is closely working with Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in an effort to come up with smart ICT infrastructure standards and they are hopeful that they should be able to release the first version of these standards around mid-2019.

Smart Cities are the incubators of the New Urban India that is the aspiration of over 1.25 billion citizens of our country. these are the sites where the ‘urban renaissance’ of India will be collectively envisioned and executed. It is envisaged that by 2022, the 75th year of its Independence, India’s cities should have scientifically planned and aesthetically designed settlements and public spaces, providing spacious, safe and secure environments to live, work, play and recreate. In the new-urban India, every Indian should find fruitful occupation, livelihood and self-fulfillment. This can be the model of sustainable urbanism that India can offer to the world.

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana achieves 6 crore mark

The Government had launched “Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana” (PMUY) scheme to provide 5 crore LPG connections to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families. The initial target of 5 crore connections was achieved well before the target data i.e. 31st March, 2019. Recently, the Vice President handed over the 6 crore the LPG connection under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) to Smt Jasmina Khatoon from Shivpark, Khanpur, Delhi.

Implementation of PMUY has resulted in significant increase in national LPG coverage, in general and Eastern States, in particular. The scheme has resulted in mass coverage of rural poor households and 48 per cent of the beneficiaries are SC/STs. While 74 per cent beneficiaries under the scheme, who could not afford to make upfront payment for purchase of gas stove and first refill, were provided loan facility by the OMCs. It is significant to mention that under the PMUY the average per capita consumption is 3.28. This should be seen as a positive change in the lives of these households which were long dependent on the traditional cooing fuels and methods.

LPG Panchayats are being observed to promote learning through peer group interaction – Kuch Seekhein, Kuch Sikkayein, where apart from experience sharing, it also aims at safe and sustained usage of LPG. OMCs as on date have conducted 59,960 nos. of LPG affordable to poor families, OMCs have introduced 5 Kg refill option to Ujjwala beneficiaries wherein the Ujjwala beneficiary can swap 14.2 Kg cylinder with 5 Kg refill and vice versa. 1,33,869 nos. of beneficiaries have taken advantage of this scheme as on 31.12.2018.

PMUY implementation has been appreciated by the World Health Organization (WHO) who have termed it as a decisive intervention to check the indoor health pollution being faced by the women of the country.

PM Launches Gangajal Project to Provide Better and More Assured Water Supply to Agra

Giving a major push to develop and enhance tourism infrastructure in Agra, the Prime Minister launched a series of development projects worth Rs. 2900 crores for the Agra city and the adjoining areas on 9th January 2019. The Prime Minister dedicated to the nation, Gangajal project, which will  provide Agra with better and more assured water supply, at an estimated cost of Rs. 2880 crore. Gangajal project aims to bring 140 cusecs of Ganga water to Agra. This will help meet the drinking water demands in the city.


PM Launches Infrastructure Development Project in Odisha

The Prime Minister launched several development projects worth Rs.1500 crores and laid foundation stones of various projects in Balangir in Odisha on 14 January, 2019. He dedicated Multi-Modal Logistics Park (MMLP) Jharsuguda to the Nation. Giving a boost to rail projects, the PM inaugurated the Balangir-Bichhupali railway line built at an estimated cost of Rs 115 crores. The PM also dedicated to the nation, the new bridge over Nagavali River, doubling of railway lines between Barpali-Dungaripali and Balangir-Deogaon and electrification of 813 km of Jharsuguda-Vizinagaram of Rs 15.81 crore. The Multi-Modal Logistics Park (MMLP) at Jharsuguda is built at a cost of Rs 100 crores and will facilitate EXIM and domestic cargo including private freight traffic. Many important industries like steel, cement, paper etc are located around the facility and will benefit from it. The Multi-Modal Logistics Park will establish Jharsuguda as a prime logistics hub in Odisha and boost ease of doing business in the State.

The 15 km Balangir-Bichupali New Railway Line would connect coastal Odisha with western Odisha synchronizing development across the State. It will reduce travel time from Bhubaneswar and Puri to major cities like New Delhi and Mumbai. The line would benefit many MSME and cottage industries in Odisha and open up opportunities for the mining sector in Odisha.

Speaking on the occasion and highlighting the importance of connectivity and education, he said, “Education leads to human resource development. But, it is connectivity that transforms such resources into opportunity. Inauguration of 6 railway projects is an effort of our endeavour to enhance connectivity. It will facilitate movement of people, make mineral resources more accessible to industry and help famers to take their produce to far-off markets, furthering “Ease of Living’ for Odisha’s citizens”.

PM Dedicates Kollam Bypass on NH-66 to the Nation

The Prime Ministry dedicated the 13 km, 2-ane Kollam bypass on NH-66 to the nation on 15 January 2019. Addressing a gathering, Prime Minister said that infrastructure development has been the priority of his Government and the Kollam bypass is an example. Kollam Bypass will reduce travel time between Alappuzha and Thiruvanathapuram and decongest the traffic in Kollam town.

The Prime Minister and that the government is committed to ensure timely completion of all the projects. He said that through PRAGATI, more than 250 projects worth Rs 12 lakh crores have been reviewed at his end.



Highlighting the progress in road connectivity, the PM expressed hope that the government will reach the target of 100 per cent rural road connectivity soon. Regional air connectivity and expansion of railway lines have shown marked improvement resulting in creation of job opportunities. The Prime Minister said, “When we construct roads and bridges, we do not only connect towns and villages. We also connect aspirations with achievements, optimism with opportunities and hope with happiness.”