New Delhi: Allocating a major share to infrastructure that includes Rs 2.21 lakh crore outlay, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today said enhanced allocations coupled with reforms and steps will remove obstacles impeding the sector's growth.
Presenting Budget for 2016-17 in Parliament, Jaitley said infrastructure is one of the strong pillars of economy and "exemplary" and "proactive" steps by government to remove hurdles resulted in India awarding highest ever road contracts in 2015 as well as highest ever production of motor vehicles which are clearly "signs of growth".
Total outlay for infrastructure has been put at Rs 2.21 lakh crore for 2016-17, the Finance Minister said adding total allocation for road and rail in 2016-17 is Rs 2.18 lakh crore.
The Finance Minister said as high as 85 percent of "the 70 stuck road projects have been put back on track". These projects entailed an investment to the tune of Rs 1 lakh crore involving 8,300 km, he said.
For highways sector, Jaitley said, an allocation of Rs 55,000 crore has been made while National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) can raise tax free bonds of Rs 15,000 crore.
"The total allocation for the road sector has been Rs 97,000 crore including rural roads," he said.
A sum of Rs 19,000 cr has been allocated for Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana in 2016-17 and in all, Rs 27,000 cr after contribution from states.
Jaitley also announced that "abolition of permit law will be our medium-term goal in public transport".
He said a new credit rating system for infrastructure will be developed.
To bolster ports sector, Rs 8,000 crore has been provided for Sagarmala project.
The minister said to boost mass transport, entrepreneurs will be permitted to play buses on various routes which will be
"game changing" in public transport system.
Jaitley also said Motor Vehicles Act will be amended.
Passenger traffic on roads has to be made more efficient
for the benefit of the common man and the middle class, Jaitley said.
"This is a totally unreformed sector which suffers from several impediments. Abolition of permit-raj will be our medium-term goal. Government will enact necessary amendments in the Motor Vehicle Act and open up the road transport sector in the passenger segment," Jaitley announced.
"An enabling ecosystem will be provided for the states, which will have the choice of adopting the new legal framework. Entrepreneurs will be able to operate buses on various routes, subject to certain efficiency and safety norms," he said.
The major benefit of this game changing initiative will be provision of more efficient public transport facilities, greater public convenience, new investment in the moribund sector, creation of new jobs for the youth, growth of startup entrepreneurs and other multiplier effects, he said.
In 2015, India's major ports handled the highest ever quantity of cargo.
"We have also added the highest ever capacity in major ports. We have started a series of measures for modernising the ports and increasing their efficiency. The Sagarmala project has already been rolled out," the minister said.
He said the government is planning to develop greenfield ports both in the eastern and western coasts of the country.
"The work on the National Waterways is also being expedited. Rs 800 crore has been provided for these initiatives.