Stalled highways projects worth Rs 1,80,000 crore will be rolled out in a month’s span after ironing out hurdles like delays in land acquisition and green nods, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said.
Blaming the previous regime for award of projects “without acquiring even 10 per cent of the required land” and causing hardships for road sector, Gadkari also announced that steps were on to launch new projects worth 2 lakh crore soon.
“As many as 189 projects with a cost of Rs 1,80,000 crore are stuck due to problems in land acquisition, delays in forest and environment clearances, non-transfer of defence land and hurdles in rail overbridges… hurdles will be removed by August 15 and work will start on these,” Gadkari said addressing a summit on Highways by PHD Chamber.
In a significant shift of policy, he also said that public private partnership (PPP) model was not feasible at present for award of road projects due to a host of issues “created by the previous government” and that schemes will be bid out on engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) mode.
“Projects were bid out by previous government without even 10 per cent of the required land acquisition. Work could not start on the project where financial closure took place two years back. Banks withdrew financial closure…PPP mode is not possible now. We will work on EPC model for a few years,” he said.
Unlike PPP model where the private sector has to fund the road building, in the EPC model, the Government funds a highway, with private firms designing and building the road.
Gadkari said, “DPR (detailed project report) will be ready soon for projects worth Rs 2 lakh crore after which steps would be taken for forest and environment clearance and land acquisiton…after two years roads and port sector will help India’s GDP to grow at least by 2 per cent.”
Eleven projects under PPP by previous regime which are stuck for two years will be rolled under EPC, Gadkari said A Committee for such projects has been constituted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi under his chairmanship to fast track the road projects, he said.
Road sector alone accounts for Rs 2,40,000 crore NPAs by banks besides Rs 3,60,000 crore NPAs by power sector, he said adding he would soon be holding meetings with bank officials in this regard. After clearing the backlog, Road Ministry will aspire to build 30 km of roads a day, he said. He said work was on projects worth Rs 21,000 crore in Jammu & Kashmir and Rs 15,000 crore in the North East while hurdles for Rs 40,000 crore worth of projects were removed recently.
Gadkari said financing of road projects may not be a problem as the government is willing to allow foreign investors to buy stake in a Corporation formed by Road Ministry. “We are holding talks with some nations and have offered 26 per cent stake in the Corporation in lieu of funds to the tune of Rs one lakh crore,” Gadkari said.
Also he said that an ambitious plan to lay gas, optical fibre and power transmission lines along the one lakh km national highways was planned to generate revenue for the government. Gadkari said public amenties are proposed to be constructed every 50 Km on National Highways and 2000 such facilities will be constructed housing malls, restuarants etc.
To make toll collection process at the national highways easier and more transparent, he said the government will roll out RFID-based electronic toll collection across at least 350 toll plazas in three months.
“For this, a RFID chip-embedded sticker will be put on the vehicles and money will automatically get deducted at the toll plazas, through which the vehicles will pass through,”he said adding the department has inked a pact with ICICI bank in this regard.
Solar panels would also be fitted on these toll plazas. Besides, trees would be planted across NH lengths and all these steps are expected to result in employment to about 10 lakh youth. Gadkari also said that concrete roads which last longer than bitument and were cost-friendly will be built. He said use of ethanol will be promoted in a bid to cuton huge Rs 6 lakh crore import bills on petroleum, gas and crude.
Also a new Bill for Motor Vehicle Act was in the making in consultation with the prevailing laws in six advanced nations – UK, US, Canada, Brazil, Japan and Singapore, Gadkari said. On ports and waterways sector, he said inland navigation is proposed to be started soon on Ganga river stretch besides building airport like terminals on its banks.
Dredging will be done at 12 major ports to increase the 12 metre draft to 18 metres besides creation of dry ports for such states without sea.