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To achieve 8 pc growth rate — Greater investments needed in infrastructure projects: PM

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SETTING PRIORITIES: The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, greeting the Chairman & Managing Director of Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd, Mr S. Jayaraman, at the foundation stone laying ceremony of Thermal Power Station II Expansion in Neyveli on Saturday. Others in the picture are the Union Minister for Coal, Mr Shibu Soren (second from left), and the Minister of State, Mr Dasari Narayana Rao (extreme right). — V. Ganesan

Salem (Tamil Nadu) , Feb. 4

THE Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on Saturday said that his Government has set an ambitious programme of expanding and improving road network across the country at an outlay of Rs 170,000 crore. Most of these works would be taken up under private-public partnership.

In the last one year, the UPA Government had awarded contracts for nearly 5,500 km of new roads, which is the highest ever since the commencement of the National Highway Development Project aimed at strengthening the country's surface transport infrastructure, Dr Singh said.

The Prime Minister, who laid the foundation stone for the Rs 850-crore four-laning of the national highway between Salem-Chengapalli section of the NH-47 here, said the Government had set a growth target of 7-8 per cent for the next decade, but to achieve this we needed greater investment in infrastructure such as roads, ports, telephones, airports, railways and power. His Government has given highest priority for road developments, which included national highways and rural roads.

Improved road connectivity helped agriculture produce finding markets, thereby, boosting economic growth, employment generation and reducing poverty. Besides his Government investing in road building, funds are also being given to the State governments for improving highways and roads, he added.

Dr Singh said Tamil Nadu has been a major beneficiary of these programmes. Of the 4,200-km of national highway in the State, four-laning had already been approved for 3,250 km. Once these projects were completed, it would give a big boost to the State's economy, he added.

The four-laning of Salem-Chengapalli national highway to be taken up in two phases (between Salem-Kumarapalayam and Kumarapalayam-Chengapalli sections of NH-47) is being taken up as part of the development of the North-South Corridor programme under the national highway development project (NHDP).

Speaking on the occasion, the Union Minister of Shipping and Road Transport and Highways, Mr T.R. Baalu, said the Prime Minister's inauguration of new infrastructure projects in Tamil Nadu that included the unveiling of the Neyveli Lignite Corporation's second mine expansion, besides the national highway developments has brought to the State projects worth Rs 6,500 crore.

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