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Rediff.com  » News » Infra Key Talking Point For BJP In 2024

Infra Key Talking Point For BJP In 2024

By Subhayan Chakraborty, Dhruvaksh Saha, Shreya Jai
April 02, 2024 08:59 IST
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Key infrastructure sectors -- from railways to power, and from coal to petroleum -- will not only be part of the achievements but promises too, as the BJP fights to get a third term at the Centre.

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to the crowd after flagging off two new Amrit Bharat trains and six new Vande Bharat trains in Ayodhya. Photograph: ANI Photo
 

With infrastructure development being one of the foremost pitches made by the Bharatiya Janata Party for the Lok Sabha elections, its ministers manning these crucial departments have prepared talking points which they aim to amplify in their campaigning.

Key infrastructure sectors -- from railways to power, and from coal to petroleum -- will not only be part of the achievements but promises too, as the BJP fights to get a third term at the Centre.

Making arterial travel safer, efficient

Union Minister for Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw is likely to promise expansion in the premium Vande Bharat services in the country, along with a focus on transforming projects through schemes, such as Amrit Bharat stations.

The ministry has plans to redevelop nearly 1,300 stations at Rs 24,000 crore (Rs 240 billion).

The BJP is also looking to double down on its promise of delivering more semi-high-speed and high-speed rail lines in the next five years, among other achievements, according to a senior official aware of the developments.

After the Centre received criticism for its lapses in accident cases like the Balasore triple train crash, the third major talking point from the railways will be full coverage of the indigenous anti-collision system -- Kavach.

Currently, the system is operational only on approximately 1,500 route km of the railways network, which is just 1 per cent, and several tenders are expected to be floated soon.

The automatic warning and braking system can avoid train collisions when loco pilots overshoot stop signals, but is only a small section of the safety overhaul needed in the rail system.

The ministry of road, transport and highways, headed by BJP veteran Nitin Gadkari, is focusing on record highway construction, improvement in investment ecosystem in the road sector, and transforming the transport sector into green fuel-friendly.

At a recent public appearance, Gadkari said his biggest achievement was not road construction but e-rickshaws, which had not only promoted a cheap and green transport system but created grassroots jobs as well.

Secure and accessible energy

Energy security also forms the core of the BJP's poll pitch for both general voters and industry.

And in this, cooking gas subsidy and its availability for the poor are the primary focus area.

In both rural and urban areas, the oil ministry has been told to keep the focus on the PM Ujjwala Yojana, especially on the government's decision to extend the scheme to 2026, officials said.

In September 2023, the government announced at least 7.5 million new connections would be given during the period, taking the number of Ujjwala connections to 103.5 million.

Special emphasis will be placed on the targeted subsidy of Rs 200 under Ujjwala being increased to Rs 300 since October last year.

For non-Ujjwala households, two successive reductions in the price of cylinders will be stressed, the recent being a Rs 100 cut announced on International Women's Day.

Awarding city gas distribution networks to all areas of the country, and the fast pace of work in extending city gas infrastructure and natural gas pipelines will be stressed.

On oil, the fact that domestic pump prices have not risen despite the wars in Ukraine and Gaza will be the main point for those on the stump.

Instead, a Rs 2 reduction in petrol and diesel will be highlighted.

Improvement in electricity supply infrastructure is the pitch from the power ministry and the success of 100 per cent household electrification under Saubhagya will be amplified.

In addition to it is the increase in average hours of power supply in rural and urban areas and improvement in the functioning of power distribution companies on several metrics.

Officials said the changing face of the power sector was also being projected to industry for attracting investment in newer areas of green energy, transmission, and distribution.

The ministry of ocal has intensified its push towards self-sufficiency in coal in recent years.

Union Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi at a recent meeting said the two reasons were enhanced coal production by Coal India and private mines awarded since 2014, and better logistics.

Senior officials said the minister in his discussions with the industry stakeholders had promised new-age tools to improve coal logistics, which will bring down the cost of electricity and also fuel cost for various metal and manufacturing sectors.

The BJP government will also promise zero coal imports by 2026, officials said.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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Subhayan Chakraborty, Dhruvaksh Saha, Shreya Jai
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