Setu Bharatam Programme


Government has launched Setu Bharatam Programme to replace Railway Crossing on National Highways by Road over Bridges (ROBs) /Road Under Bridges(RUBs)

About Setu Bharatam Programme:

  • Setu Bharatam was launched by Prime Minister of India on 4 March 2016 at a budget of ₹102 billion 
  • Setu Bharatam aim is to make all national highways free of railway crossings by 2019.
  • The Government of India launched the Setu Bharatam project considering the importance of road safety.
  • Setu Bharatam aims in developing a strong infrastructure that will contribute towards the growth of the country through proper planning and implementation of this project.
  • The Setu Bharatam focuses on the construction of new bridges along with the renovation of old ones.
  • An Indian Bridge Management System (IBMS) was also established by the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways at the Indian Academy for Highway Engineer in Noida.
    • The primary aim of this project is to conduct surveys and inventions of all the bridges on the national highways through mobile inspection units.
    • There are around 11 firms that have been set up for this purpose.
  • This project has been successful in inventing 50,000 bridges till now and the first cycle of this survey was completed in June 2016.

Objectives Setu Bharatam Programme

The Setu Bharatam launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi aimed to make all the national highways free from railway crossing by the year 2019. Some of the major objectives of the Setu Bharatam Project were:

  1. Construction of bridges in the national highways across the country.
  2. Construction of around 280 under and over railway tracks bridges by the Government with an expense of around Rs. 100 Crore.
  3. Around 64 bridges would get the green signal at the end of the year 2016.
  4. Use of scientific techniques such as measurement of distance, longitude, latitude, material, designs etc. during the construction of bridges.

The Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said certain species of trees could be identified and graded on the basis of their abilities to provide oxygen and to bind the soil, even for the infrastructure project. The CJI had suggested framing a new protocol by which road and highway projects ought to be cleared only after checking the feasibility of other modes of transport.

The loss of 300 trees in West Bengal would be much more than the ₹500 crores sanctioned for the five rail overbridge. The five proposed bridges are part of a mega project Setu Bharatam, financed by the Centre to construct 208 rail over and under bridges across 19 States in the country.

To know about the 208 over bridges constructed across the country, refer to the table given below:

Setu Bharatam Project
StatesNumber of over bridges
Andhra Pradesh33
Himachal Pradesh5
Madhya Pradesh6
Tamil Nadu9
Uttar Pradesh9
West Bengal22

The Sethu Bharatam project laid emphasis on the construction and repairing of the old bridges and also reduced the overall cost of the project. The project was implemented quickly and was completed by the year 2019.

About Indian Railways

  • Indian Railways is among the world’s largest rail networks. Indian Railways route length network is spread over 1,23,236 km, with 13,452 passenger trains and 9,141 freight trains plying 23 million travellers and 3 million tonnes (MT) of freight daily from 7,349 stations.
  • India’s railway network is the 4th largest railway network in the world and 2nd largest in Asiaunder single management.
  • Indian Railway is the main artery of the country, it is also called as lifeline of India which provides both freight and passenger mode of transportation.
  • It contributes in the national growth and economic integration of the country.

Significance of Railways in India

  • Railways provide the cheapest and most convenient mode of passenger transport both for long-distance and suburban traffic.
  • Railways have played a significant role in the development and growth of industries. The growth of the textile industry in Mumbai, jute industry in areas surrounding Kolkata, coal industry in Jharkhand, etc is largely due to the development of railway networks in these areas. Railways help in supplying raw materials and other facilities to the factory sites and finished goods to the market.
  • Agriculture also owes its growth to railways to a great extent. Commercialization of agriculture has been possible only by the contribution of the railway. Now farmers can sell their agricultural produce to distant places and even sell them in the world market at remunerative prices. Railway helps in quick transport of perishable goods agricultural implements etc to a larger distance.
  • Railways are also helpful in removing isolation between cities and countryside (rural areas) and have played a significant role in disseminating innovations and new ideas.
  • Railways help in providing the national market by stimulating the process of equalization of prices. The railway is connected with major ports which are helpful in promoting international trade.
  • Railway helps in the defense and internal security of the country by ensuring the quick movement of troops, defense equipment, etc to remote places.
  • Railways play a vital role in mitigating the sufferings of the people in the event of natural calamities like droughts, floods, famines, earthquakes, etc. This is done by carrying relief and rescue teams and essential items to the affected areas and save people from suffering and starvation.

Growth and development of Indian railways

  • The first railway line in India was opened for public traffic on 16 April 1853 between Mumbai and Thane over a distance of 34 km.
  • Meanwhile, the construction of the railway lines was going on in the eastern part of the country, and the first section of the East Indian Railway, from Howrah to Huglia distance of 37 km was inaugurated on 15 August 1854.
  • The line from Kanpur to Allahabad was opened in 1859.
  • The southern part of the country did not lag behind and got its first 105 km long railway line from Royapuram to Arcot in 1856.
  • In 1870, the all-rail route between Kolkata and Mumbai started functioning and the mainline from Mughal Sarai to Lahore (now in Pakistan) was completed.
  • In 1871, the Mumbai-Chennai route was also opened.
  • Thus within a short span of 18 years from 1853 to 1871, most of the important cities of India were connected by rail.
  • At present India has the second-largest railway network in Asia and the fourth largest in the world after the USA (2, 27,736 km), Russia (2, 22,293 km), and China (87,157 km). But India tops the world’s leading countries with regard to passenger/kilometer earned.
  • The railway is the largest public sector undertaking of the country comprising a vast network of 6,906 stations spread over a route length of 63,122 km with a fleet of 7,681 locomotives, 39,852 passenger service vehicles, 4,904 other coaching vehicles and 2,14,760 wagons.
  • Today Indian Railways is operating in one of the most difficult terrains in the world, for e.g. 55 km long rail route-length between Jammu and Udhampur, 837 km route length is added with the completion of the Konkan railway route.
  • Indian railway is the largest government undertaking and is the largest employer with more than 10 lakh employees working in operational and commercial sections of railways.
  • The longest rail route in India is from Dibrugarh in Assam to Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu.

Government initiatives

  • Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow in Railways Related Components stood at US$ 1,107.60 million from April 2000 to March 2020
  • The Government is going to come up with a ‘National Rail Plan’ to enable the country to integrate its rail network with other modes of transport and develop a multi-modal transportation network.
  • A ‘New Online Vendor Registration System’ has been launched by the Research Designs & Standards Organisation (RDSO), the research arm of Indian Railways, to have digital and transparent systems and procedures.

Source: PIB

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