Vol: 17 No: 01
09 August 1970
Except, unfortunately, in regard to road building, considerable additions to our infrastructure were made and will have trebled our power generating capacity and our shipping tonnage. By the end of next year, 70,000 villages will be electrified. Here I would like to pay tribute to Tamil Nadu which has been a pioneer state in bringing light into the darkness which brooded over our countryside . After some ups and downs we made striking gains in our exports, particularly non-traditional, as well as import substitution, which helped our foreign exchange resources to climb back from a low of $525 million to nearly $ 900 million.
I suggested in Delhi, the other day, a massive countrywide road building programme as part of an integrated rural works programme.
I have estimated that a road programme which would give direct employment to a million men and women and to another 11/2 to 2 million through its multiplier effects would cost about Rs. 250 crores per annum. Considering the contribution of around Rs. 600 crores a year which the road transport industry makes to the public exchequer, financing such a programme should not be difficult. But even if the cost were to be met by deficit financing, it would only increase by half a per cent the present rate of deficit financing of about 1% of the national income.
One of the most difficult problems we shall continue to face in a greatly aggravated form in the next decade will be that of the migration of millions of people from the countryside to the cities, leading to even bigger and worse slums and squatters’ colonies than those we have in our larger cities today.
The Pearrson Commission in its report has singled out India as the worst example of this phenomenon and have said: “If the present trends continue, the largest cities in India will have over 35 million inhabitants by the year 2,000”.
This grievous problem will require heroic solutions and vast amounts of money.
Industry will have to face many specific problems of its own, including those of raising adequate finance and foreign exchange, minimising the frightful delays from which all projects seem to suffer in our
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