IANS | 25 Dec, 2023
India has set an ambitious goal of making its road infrastructure
equal to the US in the next five years besides decongesting metros and
considerably reducing travel time and road mishaps, said Minister of
Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari.
In the last nine
years, Gadkari, in a mission mode to make the country’s roads safer and
smarter, said his ministry had awarded work for projects worth more than
Rs 50 lakh crore and also eased the procedure for sanctioning contracts
by improving the existing policies.
“No contractor needs to come
to me for sanctioning the contract. We are transparent, time- bound,
result-oriented and quality conscious and fast in decision-making. We
consider the ministry, contractors and bankers as one family. We
encourage good work, and that is why we have seven world records. This
is the great achievement of the ministry,” he said in an interview
published in the Manorama Yearbook 2024.
“I am confident that after five years, our road infrastructure will be equal to the US”.
that he ‘never gives false promises’, the minister stressed that
futuristic development of infrastructure is the need of the country.
India needs robust infrastructure for attracting capital investment from
both domestic and foreign sources, which would remove poverty and
Determined to make India number one in the
automobile sector, he said India’s automobile industry had recently
surpassed Japan to become the third behind China and the US.
industry is worth Rs 7.5 lakh crore and the maximum GST to the states
and Central government is generated from this sector. Till now, 4.5
crore jobs have been created by this industry. My dream is to double the
size of our automobile industry to Rs 15 lakh crore in the next five
years. This is the way in which we are progressing in every sector. We
are already the fastest growing economy and people are more interested
in dealing with India,”.
He also strongly pitched for introducing
electric and flex fuel vehicles to reduce consumption of fossil fuel,
whose import bill is Rs 16 lakh crore. Some vehicles, with flex engines,
are now being powered by ethanol instead of petrol. It will bring the
average cost of fuel to Rs 15 as ethanol's rate is only Rs 60 and it
would also generate electricity. “We are now opening ethanol pumps,” he
Gadkari said it would also empower Indian farmers to
double up as ‘urjadaata’ (energy producer) while being ‘anndaata’ (food
producer) as ethanol fuel can be produced from crops like sugarcane and
“The diversification of agriculture to the energy and
power sector is the most important policy which is going to change the
future of our country, particularly of rural agriculture and tribal
India. Like smart cities, we can have smart villages which are very
important for the development of our country and that is the policy
change we are bringing in.”
As for the future of public
transportation, he said India is now making ropeways, cable cars and
running public transport on electricity. Efforts are underway to
introduce electric buses in more cities. “Within five years public
transport will totally change. It will be a less polluting, more
cost-effective substitute,” he said.
For decongesting metros,
projects have been undertaken worth over Rs 65,000 crore, which include
Dwarka Expressway (Rs 9,000 crore), six-lane urban extension road in the
National Capital (Rs 8,000 crore), Eastern Peripheral Expressway (Rs
12,000 crore), and Delhi-Meerut Expressway (Rs 8,000 crore).
support of his ministry’s efforts to ensure faster travel time, he cited
the instance of the Atal Tunnel at Rohtang Pass between Manali and
Lahaul-Spiti Valley, which has reduced travel time from three hours to
eight minutes. Similarly, Katra-Delhi Expressway will allow travel
between Delhi and Amritsar in four hours, Delhi and Katra (J&K) in
six hours and Delhi and Srinagar in eight hours. In Ladakh, work has
started on the biggest tunnel in Asia at Zojila Pass.
disclosed that new border roads are being built which are strategically
important. There are 30 roads where airplanes can safely land. Plans are
afoot to develop 670 roadside amenities which will also have heliports
and drone ports.
Gadkari said entrepreneurs and startups have a
vital role to play in revitalizing the Indian economy. “We need to
support those who have entrepreneurship and possess new technology,” he
The minister, however, conceded that his promise to reduce
accidents by 50 per cent has not yielded desired results. Every year
five lakh accidents and 1.50 lakh deaths occur which result in a GDP
loss of three per cent.
“This is a problem related to automobile
engineering, road engineering and awareness of the people. People don't
have respect for the law,” he said, adding that it is imperative to
change the mindset of the people about road safety for which help is
needed from media, social and educational institutions, and NGOs. Help
is being enlisted from celebrities, including Amitabh Bachchan and
Akshay Kumar, in this regard.