In March 2016, the Union Government had launched the Setu Bharatam programme with the aim of building Rail Over Bridges (ROBs), or Rail Under Bridges (RUBs) at railway crossings, to prevent frequent accidents and loss of lives at level crossings and ensure safe and seamless travel on National Highways.
It was a prestigious as well as an ambitious project of the Union Government and while launching the programme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had observed that a good infrastructure network is vital for the growth and development of a nation.
Of the 208 proposed bridges to be built at a total cost of Rs 20,800 crore, Andhra Pradesh was allocated the construction of maximum 33 ROBs, but unfortunately the programme seems to be gathering dust and is deprived of seeing the light of day.
Union minister for Road Transport & Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari had reiterated on several occasions that the Setu Bharatam will make all national highways free of railway level crossings by 2019.
Progress of the Project in Andhra Pradesh
The elected representatives as well as the state government authorities claim that after the initial sanction by the railway authorities, there was no further progress made on the project.
Srikakulam MP K Rammohan Naidu, a key member of railway users committee of Waltair division of the East Coast Railway (ECoR) said, “I don’t find any progress of the project till date. I have to check once again with the authorities including the railway whether there has been any progress at all.” (Source: TOI)
Officials at the ECoR feel that there is a communication gap and unless there is pressure from the political wings at the central level, the programme will fail to take off.
As per the official website of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping, while three ROBs and RUBs have been sanctioned in Andhra Pradesh, six have been sanctioned in Bihar, one in Haryana, one in Odisha, one in Punjab, one in Uttar Pradesh, and one in West Bengal. Of the 208 proposed new ROBs and RUBs, only 14 have been sanctioned till date.
If the Union Government plans to meet the target of safe commute through project Setu Bharatam by 2019, then they really need to speed things up. The state governments also require becoming proactive in getting the sanctions and begin the process of construction.