Union Minister for Surface Transport Nitin Gadkari Thursday announced road projects worth Rs 70,000 crore for Maharashtra, complete with a new toll policy, to be rolled out next month. He said the centre and the state were making all efforts to deliver quick results.
“Unlike in the UPA, our chief minister (Devendra Fadnavis) doesn’t suffer from ‘paralysis of hand’. He and other ministers have no problems signing the files,” said Gadkari. The comment was aimed at NCP chief Sharad Pawar’s jibe at former CM Prithviraj Chavan. Accusing Chavan of sitting over files, Pawar had said he might be suffering from paralysis of hands.
Gadkari outlined the achievements of the Narendra Modi government and plans envisaged for Maharashtra. “Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has cleared 71 files, which has facilitated movement of all infrastructure projects,” he said.
Outlining the government’s commitment to bringing the new Road Transport and Safety Act, to strengthen road designs and minimise accidents, he said: “The idea is to introduce e-toll across state to cut down on the loss of time and fuel when waiting for the manual challan.”
However, Gadkari refused to commit his government’s policy on abolishing toll across Maharashtra. Instead, he said: “The centre is studying the issue and along with the state would soon come out with a toll policy next month.”
The minister said Axis and ICICI banks had come forward to undertake the e-toll system that had already been implemented at 140 places without the government having to make any investment. “The idea is to replace the manual work with electronic machines to speed up traffic movement and save fuel. If we calculate the manpower and fuel losses during the waiting period at toll plazas, it works out to Rs 38,000 crore,” he added.
Emphasising on building highway roads with multi lanes, Gadkari said: “My government is committed to completing 30 km every day.Earlier, it was just 1 km in a couple of days. Major national highway projects were put on hold during the UPA government.”
To minimise the cost of construction, he said, the government had engaged agencies that promised cement at Rs 120 per bag, “provided there is advance payment”.
Apart from developing 13 ports along Varanasi and Haldia, the minister stressed on a Rs 4,000-crore highway project between Mumbai and Goa.
He added: “Our endeavour is to minimise accidents on roads for which we are bringing a comprehensive legislation in the next session. The effort is to make the transport department corruption free where RTOs will not be required.”
Gadkari said the government also intended to commercially develop long stretches along the highways and land along the railway tracks that would help them generate Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000 crore every year.