President Pranab Mukherjee said that the National Urban Development Mission, which in the process of being finalized, will particularly focus on water and solid waste management infrastructure.
"Cities are the engines of economic growth. My Government is committed to building modern amenities and infrastructure in our urban areas. The National Urban Development Mission is being finalized, particularly focusing on water and solid waste management infrastructure. After extensive stakeholder consultations, the Smart City programme is close to finalization. These two programmes are interlinked and will prepare our nation for an increasingly urban future," President Mukherjee said.
He also said that the railways are the arteries of the Indian economy.
"Robust infrastructure is critical for accelerating economic development and reviving economic growth. Indian Railways are the arteries of our economy. My Government is committed to reform and infuse new vitality into this sector through better services, improved passenger-safety, and increased movement of freight," President Mukherjee said.
"Two Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs), namely, Eastern DFC and Western DFC are likely to be commissioned by 2019. Action for conducting feasibility studies for the Diamond Quadrilateral project of High Speed Trains connecting Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata has been taken up. Metro Rail projects have been sanctioned for Ahmadabad and Nagpur," he added.
President Mukherjee further said that new standards have been set to improve quality of roads, both on highways and in rural areas.
"Several policy initiatives to revive the highway sector have been taken. 'National Highways Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited' has been set up for creation of infrastructure in the North Eastern States and border regions of the country," President Mukherjee said.
"New standards have been set to improve quality of roads, both on highways and in rural areas and electronic tolling has been introduced for hassle-free traffic on selected highways. e-Rickshaw and e-Cart have been introduced as a separate category under the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, enhancing convenience of passengers and generating thousands of jobs," he added.
The President also said that the government has formulated "Sagar Mala" Project to promote port-led development of the coastal regions and communities.
"My Government has taken proactive steps to promote shipping industry. These include giving life-time licenses to Indian ships, allowing Indian ships to flag out of country's waters freely, reduction of excise duty on bunker fuel and reduction of customs duty on the steel scrap of ship breaking. Government has also formulated "Sagar Mala" Project to promote Port-led development of the coastal regions and communities," he said.
"As part of "Make in India" initiative, ship designing capabilities, ship-building and ship-repair activities will be strengthened. An environment is being created to increase the Indian shipping tonnage and to reduce the transaction time on ports. An institutional arrangement for comprehensive development of National Waterways for transportation has been envisaged through the 'Jal Marg Vikas' Project," he added.
Speaking on the power sector, he said that special attention is being paid to the un-electrified villages in remote areas.
"Power sector has made commendable progress achieving 76 percent capacity addition by January, 2015 against the 2014-15 target of 17,830 MW. In order to provide 24x7 quality power in rural and urban areas, the Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana with an outlay of more than 43,000 crore and the Integrated Power Development Scheme with an outlay of more than 32,600 crore, have been launched. Special attention is being paid to the un-electrified villages in remote areas," the President said.
"My Government has started major project for improving transmission and distribution system in the North Eastern States. We will focus on developing and strengthening the National Grid by developing high capacity power corridors. To deepen the reforms in the Electricity sector, the Electricity (Amendment) Bill 2014 has been introduced. The ambitious National Smart Grid Mission and Energy Saving Schemes have been started," he added.
President Mukherjee further said that the scheme for setting up 25 mega Solar Parks has also been approved.
"My Government lays enormous emphasis on clean energy. The share of renewable energy in electricity generation is being significantly enhanced from 6 percent to 15 percent of the energy mix in the next 7 years. The scheme for setting up 25 mega Solar Parks has been approved. The implementation of the Green Energy Corridor Scheme has been accelerated," he said.
"Setting up of solar generating capacities along the international borders will be a key area of attention. My Government has made successful efforts in attracting the Global investors in this sector. Similar attention is being paid to bio-mass and hydro-energy. Government will further expand India's nuclear power capacity with the highest global standards of safety and technological standards," he added.
President Mukherjee said the petroleum sector has also witnessed major reforms.
"The petroleum sector has seen major reforms. Diesel prices have been deregulated and are now market driven. The price of petrol has also been decreased by more than 17 per litre. The Government has put to rest all speculation regarding the long pending issue of revising gas prices and put in place a prudent policy in national interest. The ethanol policy has been revised to promote use of ethanol in petrol and help sugarcane farmers," the President said.
"My government is committed to optimum utilization and transparency in allocation of natural resources. The process for auction of coal blocks has been started in a manner which will reduce the power costs in the country, provide adequate fuel to increase power generation, enhance production of steel, cement, aluminium and other essential materials," he said.
"This will also provide huge resources from allotment of mines to the mineral and coal bearing states particularly in eastern areas for accelerated development of the region. The swift and timely action taken by my government in this regard prevented the closure of mines which otherwise would have rendered thousands jobless. In coming years, my Government would make focussed efforts to expand exploration capacity and to increase domestic coal production to 1000 MTPA," he added.
The Budget Session, which contains 44 items of financial, legislative and non-legislative business, began today with President Mukherjee's address.
The first part of the Budget Session will continue till March 20 while the second part will commence after a month-long break from April 20 and conclude on May 8.
The Rail Budget will be presented on February 26, Economic Survey on February 27 and General Budget on February 28.