Central government launches Setu Bharatam programme

The central government has launched the Setu Bharatam programme for building bridges for safe and seamless travel on national highways. The programme aims to make all national highways free of railway level crossings by 2019. According to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH), 208 RoBs/railway underbridges (RuBs) will be constructed at the level crossings at a cost of Rs 208 billion as part of the programme. These RoBs/RuBs will be located in Andhra Pradesh (33), Assam (12), Bihar (20), Chhattisgarh (five), Gujarat (eight), Haryana (10), Himachal Pradesh (five), Jharkhand (11), Karnataka (17), Kerala (four), Madhya Pradesh (six), Maharashtra (12), Odisha (four), Punjab (10), Rajasthan (nine), Tamil Nadu (nine), Uttarakhand (two), Uttar Pradesh (nine) and West Bengal (22). Detailed project reports (DPRs) have already been received for 73 RoBs and of these, 64 are likely to be sanctioned at an estimated cost of Rs 56 billion by end-March 2016. In addition, about 1,500 old bridges will be improved by replacement/widening/strengthening in a phased manner at a cost of about Rs 300 billion. The ministry has already invited bids for appointing consultants for the preparation of DPRs for this. The consultancy work is likely to be awarded by end-March 2016. Besides, the MoRTH has established an Indian bridge management system (IBMS) at the Indian Academy for Highway Engineers with the aim to carry out condition surveys and an inventory of all bridges on national highways in India, by using mobile inspection units. So far, 11 consultancy firms have been appointed for this purpose. The first cycle of the survey is to be completed by June 2016.