“In five years, work to the tune of 25 lakh crore will be done by my ministry”
In Sagarmala project, we are expecting 16 lakh crores of investment. From that, 4 lakh crore is for road and port connectivity and for modernisation of ports. We have already started 2 lakh 80 thousand crores of works. There are 12 major ports in the country and now we are planning to build another six-seven ports. We are seeking 12 lakh crores of investment in port development, wherein petroleum cluster, coastal economic zone (CEZ), coastal development, automobile cluster, wooden cluster and chemical cluster would be in our priority. We have decided to construct coastal economic zone (CEZ) in Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and we are investing 40-60 thousand crore, where, at least, one lakh twenty-five thousand people will get employment. We are building four dry-ports and five smart cities in Kandala. We are bringing mbps buses and sea-plane. We are also working on cruise tourism,” said Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, in an exclusive interview with Prakash nanda and Deepak Kumar Rath. Excerpts
What is the progress in roads and highways construction from 2014 to 2018? What is the condition of tendering process, investment and transparency in it? And how many people are getting jobs in this area?
In roads and highways construction, when one thousand crore is invested, one lakh people get job directly or indirectly. Forty per cent of total cement production is being utilised in roads and highways construction.
If cement industries are working day and night today, it is because of the share of our ministry. We are constructing roads and bridges, and due to our work, cement and steel companies are able to revive their condition. Rs 8.5 lakhs crore has been invested in road, shipping, port and water ways. Through this investment, 50 lakh people have obtained jobs. We have been skilling 1,12,000 people for three months to give them skill employment and these people belong to all the states. Whatever steps we have taken so far, have not only developed the area of road construction, they also contribute in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Our first target is, when we complete five years, we should be contributing 2-3 per cent in GDP. Second, we want 25 lakh crore rupees of investment. Third, at least 2 crore people should get employment through this investment. Fourth, one lakh fifty thousand people die every year in road accidents, we want to curtail it to half. Our country is facing water crisis. States like Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat are among those states that are facing water problems. Around 3000 tmc of water from the Godavari is going into the sea. Many states face problems due to floods. If we restore this water and take it from one place to another, we will not have any water problem.
On how many projects on interlinking of rivers has the work begun?
There are 30 projects on interlinking of rivers, and we have already started work on five projects. These five projects will change the picture of rural and agriculture areas.
You are also focusing on water-ways transport. Will you briefly explain this?
We have chosen 111 rivers to convert into inland waterways, and work is going on in three-four rivers. We will complete the ongoing work on the Ganga by 2019. The World Bank has allocated us Rs 5,400 crore for this purpose. We are building 60 river ports and multi-modal hubs in Varanasi, Haldia, Sahibgunj, and Gazipur. We are also dredging to provide a width of 45 meters and five meter draft (depth) to enable navigation of small ships. Work is also in progress on the Brahmaputra. We are also going to provide nine ferries and 10 Ro-Ro (roll-on roll-of) services in the Ganga and eight ferries and 10 Ro-Ro (roll-on roll-of) services in the Brahmaputra. Same services will also be provided in Barak River in the north-east. We are also dredging in Bangladesh and once it is completed, goods and passenger services will also be commenced from Varanasi-Haldia-Bangladesh through Brahmaputra and Barak rivers. One of the most important things is that it will create huge employment.
But Bangladesh raised objection to India’s canal and interlinking projects on the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. Their assumption is that due to these projects, they will get less water. will you comment?
There has never been water-sharing problem between India and Bangladesh. Both India and Bangladesh have been the victim of flood problem. India has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bangladesh. Even Bangladesh is supporting India and there is dredging worth 250 crore is in progress. And we are not facing any opposition in doing so.
What is the progress in clean-Ganga project?
There are 189 projects in Nirmal-Ganga project, where 47 projects have already been accomplished. We are also working on 40 stream rivers. I want to assure you that by March 2019, we will finish 80 per cent work of Nirmal-Ganga project. We are also developing tourism along the banks of the Ganga from Varanasi to Ganga Sagar. Next year in 2019, Kumbh will be organised, where approximately 15 crore people will participate. Therefore, we are developing tourism along the banks of the Ganga up to Allahabad. Now, it is difficult to develop further in Himalayan areas.
Can you tell us about Sagarmala and Bharatmala projects and the steps you have taken regarding port modernisation?
In Bharatmala Project, land acquisition work has already been started on 28 ring roads and 45 expressways. I can confidently say that work is progressing at a rapid pace.
In Sagarmala project, we are expecting 16 lakh crores of investment. From that, four lakh crore is for road and port connectivity and for the modernisation of ports. We have already started work worth Rs 2 lakh 80 thousand crore. There are 12 major ports in the country and we are planning to build another six-seven 6-7 ports. We are seeking 12 lakh crores of investment in port development, wherein petroleum cluster, coastal economic zone (CEZ), coastal development, automobile cluster, wooden cluster and chemical cluster would be in our priority. We have decided to construct coastal economic zone (CEZ) in Jawaharlal Neharu Port Trust (JNPT) and we are investing 40-60 thousand crore, where, at least, one lakh twenty-five thousand people will get employment. We are building four dry-ports and five smart cities in Kandala. We are bringing amphibious buses and sea-planes. We are also working on cruise tourism.
When are you starting sea planes?
I have been talking about seaplanes, as in India, we have the potential of starting 10,000 seaplanes. We have 3 to 4 lakh ponds in India, plenty of dams, 2,000 river ports, 200 small ports and 12 major ports. So, it will cost less. This proposal is also with Aviation Ministry. The Aviation Minister has assured us to make a regulation regarding this.
How much investment has come in infrastructure development thus far?
Recently, we proposed nine national highway projects for which we were expecting 6,000 crores of investment, but we got 10,000 crores of investment by an Australian company. Also, we wanted 1600 crores of investment but got 1 lakh 26 thousand crore. I hope in five years, work to the tune of 25 lakh crore will be done by my ministry.
Sagarmala Programme: An Overview
We all know that oceans cover more than seventy per cent of the Earth’s surface. We also know that oceans contain ninety-seven per cent of the Earth’s water. Therefore, maritime transport can be the most extensive mode of transport. It is also the most eco-friendly mode of transport. However, there is one more aspect to this fact, which is that, oceans contain ninety-nine per cent of the living space on the planet. This means that our lifestyle, transport systems and trading behavior should not spoil the ecology of the oceans. Also, maritime security, freedom of navigation and safety and security of sea lanes is equally important. The challenges of climate change have shown that even offshore human behavior can change the ecology of glaciers and oceans. This is already causing a lot of concern for island countries and coastal communities in particular. Against this backdrop, the constitution of Sagarmala Programme assumes significance, and hence, for the readers’ interest, we are presenting a synopsis of this project.
Sagarmala Programme has been launched for industrial growth, new jobs and to bring prosperity. For, manufacturing hubs located in coastal regions can reduce logistics cost and increase global competitiveness. It is noteworthy that China’s logistics cost for manufacturing sector is 1/3rd that of India’s. In India, share of waterways (coastal & inland waterways) is 6% as compared to China’s 40%, Japan’s and Korea’s more than 40%. In this perspective, Sagarmala Programme aims at promoting Port-Led Development by harnessing the 7,500-km-long coastline, 111 waterways of 14,500 km. Hence, it is worth having a look at the salient points of this programme.
Sagarmala programme hinges on four pillars, namely, Port Modernization & New Port Development, Port Connectivity Enhancement, Port-led Industrialization, Coastal Community Development.
Port Modernisation & New Port Development
A roadmap has been created for increasing the Indian port capacity to 3000+ MMTPA to cater to the projected traffic of 2500 MMTPA by 2025. Notably master plans have been finalized for all the 12 major ports and 142 port capacity expansion projects (cost: Rs. 91,254 crore and capacity of 884 MMTPA) have been identified for implementation over next 20 years. In-principle approval of Cabinet for a transshipment port at Enayam has been obtained. Under the Project Unnati, 116 initiatives have been identified to unlock 110 MMTPA in Major ports. Around 86 initiatives have been implemented unlocking around 80 MMTPA capacity.
Port Connectivity Enhancement last
mile works at a cost of Rs. 16,207 crore across nine major ports have been taken up by Indian Port Rail Corporation Limited (IPRCL). Also 33 projects at a cost of Rs. 42,703 crore have been taken up by Indian Railways. DPR is under preparation for the heavy haul rail corridor between Talcher & Paradip to promote coastal shipping of coal. 93 road projects have been identified under Sagarmala at a cost of Rs. 166,535 crore. 57 projects at a cost of Rs. 35,332 crore have been planned to be taken up under Bharatmala programme. 47 projects at a cost of Rs. 2,302.05 crore have been taken up for financial assistance under the Scheme.
14 oastal Economic Zones (CEZs) covering all the Maritime States and Union Territories have been identified. 29 industrial clusters across three sectors, namely – Energy, Materials and Discrete Manufacturing, have been identified. Based on availability of land with the Major Ports, Ministry of Shipping is developing: SEZ at JNPT, Free Trade Warehousing Zone (FTWZ) at Ennore, Smart Port Industrial Cities (SPICs) at Kandla
Coastal Community Development
Three major areas under Coastal Community Development are: Skill development for coastal communities, Infrastructure for fisheries, Coastal tourism. Ministry is part-funding select fishing harbour projects in convergence with DADF. Skill gap study of 21 coastal districts has been completed and domain ministries & concerned state governments have been asked to implement the district action plans.
What about Delhi-Mumbai corridor?
New highway projects are in progress for Delhi-Mumbai corridor. We have prepared a roadmap for Delhi-Jaipur-Alwar-Vadodara-Mumbai project. In upcoming days, you will be able to reach mumbai in 10 hours.
Recently, you built tunnels in Chennai and Jammu & Kashmir. Are you constructing more such tunnels?
In Zoji La of Kargil, a tunnel is being constructed with the help of 6,000 crores of investment. Our work is in progress in each and every state.
You have set a target of 100% electric cars by 2030. Isn’t it a tough task to accomplish it?
No. It’s not a tough task. Electric vehicles will be available easily in the market in the next two years. In Nagpur, there are 200 taxis running on electric mode and 800 more cars are also set to come on roads. We have set up 20 charging stations in the city and buses are also running on electric mode. Our government is promoting the use of ethanol and methanol as an alternative to petrol and diesel.
Despite good initiatives, a perception has been created that the government has failed to deliver on its promises. Those who don’t follow our ideology or don’t concur with us will always speak like this.
How do you see by-poll election result in Uttar Pradesh?
Uttar Pradesh by-poll result was surely not in our favour. All the opposition parties are united against us. We will have to counter this.
Will Uttar Pradesh by-poll result have its impact on Karnataka legislative election?
No, surely not.