On Thursday, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the National Perspective Programme for Sagarmala, he entrusted Union Minister Nitin Gadkari the responsibility of one of the most ambitious projects of his government.
Seeking to harness India’s 7,500-km coastline to promote port-led development, Sagarmala is an amalgamation of 150 projects relating to port modernisation, improving connectivity and industrialisation around ports.
From Sagarmala to fast-tracking construction of highways, Gadkari has his hands full. Because the ministries under his watch — Road Transport and Highways and Shipping — are at the heart of key initiatives and schemes of the government.
On Friday, Gadkari will be the guest at the Express Adda in Mumbai. He will be in conversation with Vandita Mishra, National Opinion Editor of The Indian Express.
Gadkari’s ministry has prioritised development of the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, Delhi-Meerut Expressway and Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway. It has also got the nod for the Bharat Mala project that aims to develop 5,500 km of new roads along the country’s international borders and coastal areas.
Another 6,000 km of roads to connect religious and tourism centres in mountainous terrain are expected to come up, while national highways will be developed to connect district headquarters in the country.
When he became BJP president, he was his party’s youngest chief. Proud of his RSS links, he spoke out against attacks on churches and minority institutions and reassured them that the government would not protect anyone trying to target minorities. At the same time, he criticised the Opposition for “running a campaign to show that the BJP was against minorities”.