New Delhi, Aug.15 (ANI): There has been good progress in the last nine years in the infrastructure sector, including areas such as roads, railways, power, civil aviation, ports and telecommunications, the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, said while addressing the nation on the occasion of the country's 67th Independence Day.
Delivering his 10th Independence Day speech from the ramparts of the historic 17th-century built Red Fort; Dr. Singh, said that about two lakh kilometer of new roads have been constructed for connecting villages under the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
He further revealed that over 37,000-kilometers of new highways have been built, facilitating travel and trade.
"More than 40 airports have been built or upgraded. In 2004, only seven percent of the people had telephone connections. Today, 73 percent enjoy this facility. In rural areas, this figure has gone up from 2 to 40. There has been a record addition to our capacity for electricity generation," he said.
Admitting that the economy's growth rate has come down to five percent, Dr. Singh, however, said that every effort was being made by his government to remedy the situation.
"However, it is not only our country that is facing economic difficulties. The last year has been difficult for the world economy as a whole. Major European nations are experiencing a slowdown these days. All over the world, there has been a slump in export markets. All developing countries have slowed down. I believe that this phase of slow growth in India will not last long," he said.
"In the last nine years, our economy has grown at an annual average rate of 7.9 percent. This pace of development is the highest in any decade so far. Rapid economic growth is an imperative for our country. Without it, we cannot possibly achieve targets such as removal of poverty, provision of good quality education and health services and creation of new employment opportunities. The average rate of economic growth that we have attained in the last nine years shows what we are capable of," he added.
He said that steps are being taken to speed up the process of government clearances for industry, build an environment more conducive to trade and industry and increase investment in the economy.
"A special cell has been set up to help big projects with clearances. The Cabinet Committee on Investment is working to remove hindrances in the way of stalled projects," Dr. Singh said.
He also highlighted the fact that an inadequate supply of coal had become a major problem affecting efforts to increase electricity generation, but added that this has been resolved to a large extent.
"We will start work on a number of new infrastructure projects in the coming months. This includes two new ports, eight new airports, new industrial corridors and rail projects. To boost Foreign Direct Investment, we have recently enhanced the limit of such investment in many sectors and made its easier procedurally. In the coming months, we will see visible results of these efforts to increase investment. Our growth will accelerate, new employment opportunities will be generated and there will be improvements in the infrastructure sector," the Prime Minister said. (ANI)