Union Shipping and Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday launched an unexpected attack on the bureaucracy, holding them and the system responsible for delay in infrastructure projects in the country. “The reason for the delay of projects are not ministers but the system and the bureaucracy,” said Gadkari on Tuesday afternoon while speaking at ‘The Dawn of Cruise Tourism in India’ conference at the Oberoi Trident Hotel.
With Union Shipping Secretary Ravi Kant, Tourism Secretary Rashmi Verma, Maharashtra Chief Secretary Sumit Mullick, Mumbai Port Trust Chairman Sanjay Bhatia seated on the stage and chairmen and deputy chairmen of the country’s other major ports in attendance, Gadkari recounted his experiences during the construction of the Bandra-Worli sea link while he served as the PWD minister in the Shiv Sena-BJP government between 1996 and 1999.
“The NGOs and courts said that it will harm fishing and the newspapers wrote 6 column stories about it. Then I took many journalists to the site in Mahim and there we found only mud. How can there be any fishing in mud?” he said. Due to the delays, Gadkari claimed, the cost of construction more than doubled from its initial estimate of Rs 420 crore.
During a press conference minutes later, Gadkari continued saying that his plans to build a helipad in Nariman Point have been stuck because of a stay imposed on it by the Bombay High Court. “The intention is to eliminate the traffic jams in South Mumbai each time a VIP has to pass through. Once the helipad comes up, ministers can avoid inconveniencing motorists and fly directly to South Mumbai and go to Mantralaya from there,” he said.
He added that various projects of his ministries are currently stuck because clearances have not been granted by the ministry of environment and forests. “If the bureaucracy, courts, NGOs and media work together, we will be able to achieve things,” he said.