Money is not a problem, mentality is: Gadkari

Raj Kamal Rao
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari speaking at RSTV's show 'Spotlight'.  Photo-RSTV

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari speaking at RSTV’s show ‘Spotlight’.
Photo-RSTV

Five years of NDA government will transform India’s infrastructure, said transport minister Nitin Gadkari, adding that there is no dearth of funds for this priority area.

Building of infrastructure will add 2% to India’s GDP growth,  said the minister in his interactive session in the inaugural edition of Spotlight, Rajya Sabha Television’s new flagship programme.

“In the next five years we’re going to change the infrastructure of this country. I know my work, I am doing it,” he added.

“Money is not a problem, mentality is. Unfortunately we’ve a demoralised bureaucracy,” Gadkari said.

Upgrading infrastructure is a major challenge for policy makers of Asia’s third largest economy. India needs about $1 trillion (Rs 66,00,000 crore) for new roads, ports and airports over the next few years.

Gadkari said his ministry is working on a target of 30km of new roads per day. He said he is working towards achieving an ambitious target of 100 km a day.

Gadkari was confident of removing bureaucratic hurdles in the way of road projects. He said companies in the sector are victims of indecisiveness in the government and the need for multiple approvals. The government had several rounds of discussions with bankers and contractors to clarify issues relating to land acquisition and project approval.

Gadkari said he is hoping to get an increased allocation for his ministry to speed up road construction. Gadkari said that he expects Rs 15–20,000 crore more in the union budget for 2016-17,  over the current year’s outlay of Rs 45,000 cr.

India has one of the worlds largest road network stretching over 50 lakh kilometres, but most of it is in poor condition due to lack of maintenance. National Highways that constitute just 2% of this network carry 40% of the country’s road traffic.

Gadkari, who is also the minister for waterways, expressed disappointment over the step-motherly treatment accorded to in-land waterways.

My priority is waterways”. We’ve a have a Rs 45,000 crore budget for roads, but only have Rs 1,000 cr for waterways,” Gadkari said.

(With inputs from Krishnanand Tripathi)