For the aspirants of UPSC IAS Exam, here, we have provided a complete analysis of Setu Bharatam project which has been launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for building bridges for safe and seamless travel on National Highways.

Created On: Apr 1, 2016 16:30 IST

In terms of Civil Services IAS Prelims Exam as well as IAS Mains Exam, the Government's every developmental programme, schemes and projects are much important. So, for the aspirants of IAS Exam it is crucial to study such topics during their preparation of IAS Exam, so that they can score maximum in every stage of the UPSC IAS Exam.

Setu Bharatam project


Setu Bharatam project has been launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for building bridges for safe and seamless travel on National Highways. This project will ensure all the highways to be railway crossing free by 2019. Prime minister asserted the present government’s commitment for the good governance by stating that India is set to take a quantum leap in infrastructure through this project.


Following provisions have been included in this project:

•    The Setu Bharatam programme aims to make all National Highways free of railway level crossings by 2019.

•    This is being done to prevent the frequent accidents and loss of lives at level crossings.

•    In total 208 Railway Over Bridges (ROB)/Railway Under Bridges (RUB) will be built at the level crossings at a cost of Rs. 20,800 crore as part of the programme.

•    The details of 208 ROBs are as follows:

Andhra Pradesh – 33, Assam – 12, Bihar – 20, Chattisgarh – 5, Gujarat – 8, Haryana – 10, Himachal Pradesh – 5, Jharkhand – 11, Karnataka – 17, Kerala – 4, Madhya Pradesh -6, Maharashtra – 12, Odisha – 4, Punjab – 10, Rajasthan – 9, Tamil Nadu – 9, Utarakhand – 2, Uttar Pradesh – 9, West Bengal – 22.

•    Detailed Project Reports have already been received for 73 ROBs and of these 64 ROBs are likely to be sanctioned with an estimated cost of Rs. 5600 crore by this financial year i.e. 2015-16.

•    In addition to this, about 1500 old and worn down bridges will also be improved by replacement/widening/strengthening in a phased manner at a cost of about Rs. 30,000 crore.

•    The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping has already invited bids for appointing consultancy for preparing Detailed Project Report for this. The target is to award the consultancy work by March, 2016.

•    The Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has also established an Indian Bridge Management System (IBMS) at the Indian Academy for Highway Engineer in Noida, U.P. Its aim is to carry out conditions survey and inventorization of all bridges on National Highways in India by using Mobile Inspection Units.

•    Till now inventorization of 50,000 bridges has been done. The first cycle of the survey is expected to be completed by June 2016.

•    This data base will be the largest of its kind and will also help in smoothening the movement of Over-Dimension and Over-Weight consignments on National Highways.


Amidst government’s persistent endeavours to ameliorate infrastructural issues, government’s attempts to streamline the infrastructural loopholes and its genuine ways to uplift highways along with i-ways and railways, Sethu Bharatam Project’s timing has been almost perfect. Considering the low capacity utilisation, mostly  in Capital goods and slowing down of global economy, it is quintessential to strengthen all the limbs and parts of our infrastructure. Indian government has been trying to uplift the plight of manufacturing amidst Chinese slowing manufacturing, India’s demographic dividend, enhancing organised employment and enhancing India’s stature at the world stage. Streamlining of our highways holds the key in this regard, as also evident from following scenarios:

•    Roadways are the freight carrier of more than two thirds of Indian goods.

•    Constrained capacity and over utilisation of Indian Railways.

•    The capability of Highways to provide last mile connectivity trhough various feeder and connecting roads.

•    High efficiency of roads for the freight as well as passenger traffic for short as well as middle distances in terms of cost and time.

Sethu Bharatam project lays emphasis on mending and repairing of old bridges rather than building altogether new one. This will not only reduce the overall cost and avoid land acquisition but will also be implemented quickly.  Constructing a new bridge starting from the scratch at times becomes tedious process because of clearance from railways, blocking prominent rail and road traffic. Hence, revamping old bridges wherever possible is a wise move. Even the constructions of bridges from scratch at various places have been imperative for long and for large amount of projects, funds have already been issued. In total, exchequer will not have to shell heavy amounts for implementing this project.

The all new Indian Bridge Management System (IBMS) at Indian Academy for Highway Engineer in Noida, is responsible for carrying out conditions survey and inventorization of all bridges on National Highways in India by using Mobile Inspection Units. The dedicated institution having mandate, specific for this purpose will go a long way in cutting down extravagant expenditures and will help in increased efficiency of highway utilisation.

The scheme requires effective coordination among various ministries (Waterways, Urban development, Railways, Rural development etc.) so that a good synergy is present among them for effective implementation of the scheme. Depending upon the capabilities, priorities and complementarity of various modes of transportation, multi-modal transport can easily be developed ameliorating the overall transportation infrastructure of India.

The collections of Infrastructure database will help in maintaining the history of bridges and its various parameters. This will not only help in avoiding redundancy of efforts but will also create guidance for the future generation.

In order to further ease out the “ease of doing business”, compliment highways with future “dedicated freight corridor”, acting as veins and arteries of forthcoming “National Manufacturing Zones” and for strategic & security purposes, such projects are not leisure but imperative essential. In this regard Sethu Bharatam project has a long way in delivering seamless connectivity to masses.

What more can be done?

Though the advantage and multiplying effects of Sethu Bahratam Project can hardly be challenged, however, this alone may not help the highways infrastructure in spurring to our aspirational height. Following more can be suggested in this regard:

•    Connecting the high speed expressways and highways to all possible state highways, district roads and village roads.

•    Reducing the regional inequalities in highway construction and prevalence across the country.

•    Bypassing the town and cities in the way of highways.

•    Reducing accident prone areas, gentling of curves and gradients and provision of proper street lights, especially at mergers.

•    Constructing and streamlining highways, so as to properly compliment with other modes of transport, i.e. inland waterways, railways, ports etc.

•    Provision of at least four lanes of highways all across the country.


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