Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said India could no longer afford to delay modernisation of infrastructure if it was to scale new heights, and added that his government was committed to completing infrastructure projects in time.
Infrastructure played a huge role in the nation's development but earlier governments and policy-makers often avoided such time-consuming projects involving large investments "as people often lose patience", Modi said at a public meeting here.
"But, we know that if we have to take the nation to new heights, there is a pressing need to modernise our infrastructure," Modi said.
"Be it rail, road, water or power supply, optical fibre network, waterways, or coastal connectivity, India will not benefit from any further delay in setting up this modern infrastructure," he added.
The Prime Minister said that once everything was in place, it would bring many positive changes in people's lives.
"For example, road projects entailing expenditure of Rs 9,000 crore being launched in Rajasthan will benefit farmers in taking their produce to markets of their choice. It will also enable a sick mother to get good healthcare, which may not be available in her village," Modi said.
He was speaking at an event here to mark the inauguration of 12 National Highways projects entailing expenditure of Rs 5,610 crore and laying of foundation stones for another 11 projects costing Rs 9,490 crore.
He said these highways would not only help link Rajasthan with the outside world but also be gateways to progress.
Giving example of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Bajpayee's Golden Quadrilateral project, Modi said it enabled farmers of Gujarat to take their produce to markets in Delhi within a day, which substantially increased their incomes.
He said road infrastructure was especially beneficial for Rajasthan, a big state with huge potential for tourism.
"We are committed to completing projects in a time-bound manner. We are trying to bring in a culture that we finish the works we start," he said.
The Prime Minister said it took 11 years for a six-lane bridge over Chambal river, costing Rs 278 crore, to be completed.
"Compare it with projects, costing Rs 5,600 crore, which have been completed since 2014 and are being inaugurated now," Modi said.
Modi said stuck or slow-paced projects harmed the economy as the cost spiralled manifold over the years. He said it took a lot of resources and efforts to revive a stuck project.
The construction of the Chambal bridge was stuck since 2006. Its inauguration marks the completion of the East-West corridor and it will now enable heavy vehicles to bypass Kota city.
Speaking on the occasion, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari announced that the central government planned to spend Rs 2 lakh crore in five years for constructing National Highways in Rajasthan.
He said all new road projects would be launched only after securing all due clearances for smooth execution.
The Minister said that after the Narendra Modi-led central government came to power in 2014, the number as well as length of National Highways in Rajasthan has doubled.
"When Rajasthan became a state, it had only 7,498 km of National Highways. In the last three years, the length has been doubled to 14,465 km," he said.
"What could not be done in 50-60 years has been accomplished in three years of Modi government. Projects getting delayed or getting stuck is a thing of the past now," Gadkari said.
He said the number of National Highways has increased from 35 to 85 and 44 big projects, costing around Rs 10,430 crore, have been started in the state.