Soil excavated from water bodies to be used for railway, highways projects

As part of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, it has been proposed to rejuvenate 75 water bodies in each district in all States

In a move that could expedite the implementation of railways and highways projects across the country, the Union government has asked the Ministry of Railways and the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to use the soil/silt excavated from ponds/tanks in all districts across the country under the Amrit Sarovar mission for their infrastructure projects.

The water conservation mission launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 24, 2022, aims at developing and rejuvenating 75 water bodies in each district in all States as part of the celebrations of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’. At least 50,000 water bodies are expected to be rejuvenated across the country during the nationwide programme that would culminate on August 15, 2023. The Centre announced that the national flag would be hoisted at all the Amrit Sarovar sites on that day.

Since the project would involve excavation of several thousands of tonnes of earth in the form of soil or silt, the Ministry of Rural Development has told the Ministry of Railways and the NHAI to map its infrastructure projects with the Amrit Sarovar sites in all States and Union Territories. The authorities were told to use the soil and silt excavated from the sites for the construction of ongoing projects.

Nodal officers

General Managers of all Zonal Railways were told to nominate the Chief Administrative Officer (Construction) as the nodal officer who would identify the nearest sites of Amrit Sarovar to ongoing railway projects, study the suitability of the desilted soil and silt and submit a feasibility report at the earliest.

According to railway sources, many railway projects were held up due to the delay in getting the required quantity of burrow earth from the local authorities. Though the issue was flagged at the appropriate level, the timely availability of earth remained a challenge.

Road projects

According to official sources, the Amrit Sarovar mission will cater to the requirements of projects being implemented by the NHAI. In Tamil Nadu, the issue of allowing contractors to lift burrow earth became so intense that in February this year the NHAI threatened to cancel the road widening work of East Coast Road between Mamallapuram and Puducherry. However, the issue was resolved after the State government assured to resolve the issue.

The soil and silt excavated from the 75 waterbodies from each district of Tamil Nadu might be made available to road contractors for implementing road projects, official sources said.

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