Employment generation, green environment and infrastructure development: My prime target -Nitin Gadkari
“National Master Plan ‘Gati Shakti’ of more than 100 lakh crores rupees for holistic and integrated infrastructure development will create huge employment opportunities. This year the government has increased year-on-year infrastructure Capex by 34% to Rs. 5.54 lakh crores, such increased investment in infrastructure would provide great impetus to economy and create employment in near future. National Monetisation Program will build reliability and confidence in developers and financing institutions as the identified projects are likely to be better prepared, less exposed to risk given active project monitoring, management, and accountability,” said Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari in an interview to Deepak Kumar Rath. Excerpts:
Q: What is your planning to make Gati Shakti Scheme a success?
The National Master Plan of Prime Minister Gati Shakti Scheme of more than 100 lakh crore rupees for holistic and integrated infrastructure development in the country is providing the framework for the NIP programme and is aimed at making Indian products more competitive by cutting down the logistic costs and improving the supply chains.
The government is investing 1.4 trillion dollars (Rs 111 lakh crores) in infrastructure development through National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP), increasing the year-on-year infrastructure Capex by 34% to Rs 5.54 lakh crore this year.
National Master Plan ‘Gati Shakti’ of more than 100 lakh crores rupees for holistic and integrated infrastructure development will create huge employment opportunities. This year the government has increased year-on-year infrastructure Capex by 34% to Rs. 5.54 lakh crores, such increased investment in infrastructure would provide great impetus to economy and create employment in near future. National Monetisation Program will build reliability and confidence in developers and financing institutions as the identified projects are likely to be better prepared, less exposed to risk given active project monitoring, management, and accountability.
Q: Your Ministry is closely working with many departments for the development of transport system in India, but still there is a lack of coordination between air, water and road transport departments, owing to which lots of projects are getting delayed. What is your take?
Better coordination amongst various governments departments for land acquisition, environment forest clearance and approvals is very important for projects to complete on time and with no cost escalation. Our government has identified this problem and Hon’ble PM has formed an infrastructure committee under my chairmanship, we invite all the concerned ministries and their ministers for this meeting and resolve issues.
Q: What is the current rate of construction of national highway per day in kilometers and what would be your target in 2024?
Infrastructure (development) is very important for the country. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made a world record of constructing 38 km of road in a day. The pace of highway construction in the country touched a record 37 km per day in 2020-21. But I am not satisfied with the present performance; my target is to achieve the pace of up to 100 km per day of highway construction. The prime push of the government is to have time-bound, result-oriented, transparent and corruption free system.
Q: While planning big NH projects and big tunnels in India, you face bottlenecks like land acquisition, coordination with state governments, railway department, IT department and water resources department. How have you been successful in uniting all the departments and making successful projects?
I always say coordination, cooperation and communication is necessary. We took initiatives to find out ground level problems. I don’t believe in any protocols so I talk to everyone from junior engineer to DM to CM to solve issues that holds up progress of projects. Unless issue is resolved I don’t give up. During construction of Mumbai Pune Expressway, I had said if there is will there is way, otherwise there are only survey, study and conferences. If you have strong political will and positive attitude you can make miracles. We brought in fast track decision making process, corruption free transparent system and focus on speed and quality.
Q: What is the ratio of employment generation after the Gati Shakti programme?
Infrastructure provides boost to the overall development of economy. Gati Shakti aims at accelerating implementation of these infra projects. This is bound to create opportunities for direct and indirect employment. From cement steel sector to skill manpower huge opportunities shall be generated.
Q: How much direct and indirect earnings and employment generation are you providing to the Ministry of Transport?
For every 1 km of highway constructed more than 800 hrs of mandays work is generated. I have set a goal that our ministry can contribute 2% to GDP.
Q:You wanted to make India a manufacturing hub of e-vehicle. What is the status?
We have always supported our auto sector which is an industry of Rs 4,50,000 crore, creating maximum job opportunities with enhanced exports as well as domestic sales. All reputed global auto brands have a presence in India with excellent future.
India is becoming world’s automobile manufacturing hub. We have huge engineering talent pool in our country and strong manufacturing base of ancillary and a market to support that, no one can stop India in becoming global leader in coming years.
Q: You have always been in a driving seat for promotion of electric cars, bio-fuel, production of lithium batteries, etc. but results are not as much as they should have been. Comment.
I am a great protagonist of environmental protection. I introduced the concept of alternative fuel to India.
My green initiatives include encouragement to Ethanol, methanol, biodiesel, bio CNG, electric and now green hydrogen. We are working towards obtaining international benchmarks. The environment and economy need to go hand in hand. So we are maintaining a perfect balance of the two.
India is becoming the largest EV market for electronic 2-wheelers, 3-wheelers and cars. The US-based companies may collaborate with our Research and Development towards EV battery technologies and retrofitting industry.
Q: What is your agenda for road safety in India?
My target is to reduce the number of road accidents by 50 per cent before 2024 and that efforts are also being made to improve the quality of roads throughout the nation. Around 1.5 lakh persons die due to road accidents (every year). My internal target is before 2024, we will reduce deaths and accidents by 50 per cent. There is a shortage of 22 lakh drivers. So, the government aims to set up 2,000 driving schools, especially in backward districts, ministry is also working to improve the quality of roads.
Q: Your Ministry has a major role in reducing pollution. What steps are your taking?
We are working on both fronts improving infrastructure like building roads, tunnels bridges to reduce congestion and reduce length. Like the EPE built around Delhi has reduced traffic and heavy commercials vehicles in Delhi by more than 40%, this reduces pollution by almost 25%. IIT study has established this. And we are also working on bringing in cleaner and greener fuels like ethanol, methanol, Bio CNG, LNG electric etc. I have decided to bring in flexi fuels engines. We have leap frog to Bharat VI emission norms from Bharat IV norms, whereas even developing countries have done it via Stage V. All these efforts I am sure shall help in reduction of vehicular pollution.
Q: Does power politics affect you in implementing policies in your department?
Q: You have been instrumental in transforming politics into development. Can you explain it?
I always believe politics is an instrument of socio-economic reform of society. We have to work for betterment of last man as has been envisioned by our leaders Pt Deen Dayal Updhyay and Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. People have given us opportunity and as Prime Minister says we have to tirelessly work to bring positive change in the life of everyperson. “Sabaka Saath Sabaka Vikas”.
By Deepak Kumar Rath