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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

‘People need to pay to enjoy good services’: Nitin Gadkari on tolls on highways

The Union Minister made the statement while inspecting a stretch of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway near Sohna in Haryana.

Written by Avishek G Dastidar | Sohna |
Updated: September 17, 2021 5:07:39 am
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari takes stock of the work done on the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway in Sohna on Thursday. (Photo: Twitter/@nitin_gadkari))

People need to pay if they want good services, like better roads, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday while answering queries about toll charges on National Highways.

Agar air-conditioned hall mein karyakram karna hoga toh kiraya dena hoga. Phokat mein karna hai toh maidan pr baith kar bhi shaadi ho sakti hai (If you want to use an air-conditioned hall, you have to pay for it. Otherwise, you can arrange a marriage on a field as well),” the Union Road Transport and Highways minister said when asked whether toll charges along expressways would make travel costly.

Gadkari said that with quality expressways decreasing travel time significantly, the cost of fuel for journeys would also be much lesser. “The Delhi-Mumbai Expressway will decrease travel time to 12 hours. A truck takes 48 hours to reach Mumbai from Delhi. But on the Expressway, it will take only 18 hours. So, a truck will be able to undertake more trips, which would in turn mean more business,” Gadkari said while inspecting a section of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway’s Sohna portion in Haryana.

The 1,380-km-long eight-lane expressway will touch six states and is scheduled to be completed by 2023. “The future vision is that drones will be used and there will be helipads on this road for people and cargo. This would also facilitate air ambulances. We will make use of all such technology on this road,” Gadkari said, adding that in future, he wants to build electric highways along the expressway as well.

Talking about how the new roads would cut down travel time, he said, “Delhi to Katra (for Vaishno Devi shrine) will take six hours, Delhi to Chandigarh two, Delhi to Amritsar four, and Delhi to Dehradun two.”

Gadkari added that the Delhi-Meerut Expressway, partially opened so far, will be fully opened next month. “I’m going to inaugurate it next month. There was a problem with one overbridge which has been sorted. Now, the expressway, built at over Rs 6,000 crore, will decrease travel time between Delhi and Meerut to 40 minutes,” he added.

Union Minister Nitin Gadkari takes stock of the work done in Sohna on Thursday. (Photo: Twitter/@nitin_gadkari)

The total access-controlled Delhi-Mumbai highway will have eight lanes but its median, at 21 metres, is wider than the usual median size, so that in future when traffic increases, it can be turned into a 12-lane expressway, said NHAI member Manoj Kumar.

The current target is to open the whole expressway by January 2023. Work is in progress on 1,200 kilometres of the total length.

Gadkari, on Wednesday, set out on a two-day inspection of the progress of the expressway via a helicopter. He will stop along the way and take stock of work done so far. The expressway is being developed at a cost of Rs 98,000 crore and will be the longest expressway in India.

The greenfield alignment touches six states — Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra — and connects economic hubs like Jaipur, Kishangarh, Ajmer, Kota, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Bhopal, Ujjain, Indore, Ahmedabad, Vadodara, and Surat.

The foundation stone of the project was laid on March 9, 2019. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways says the expressway is the first in Asia and only the second in the world to feature animal overpasses to facilitate unrestricted movement of wildlife.

There are also two eight-lane tunnels, one through Mukundra sanctuary, so as to not disturb the endangered fauna in the region. The other is in the Matheran eco-sensitive zone.

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