- The project will benefit the people as they will get a fixed return, the Union Minister said
- The minister is working on a plan to raise funds for the road project from poor, ordinary people, the minister said
- Union Minister Gadkari said the pace of road construction has increased in the last seven years
The government is working on a project to raise funds from the people at an annual interest rate of 6 per cent for the road infrastructure project, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
“… We are working on a project to raise funds for the road project from the poor and common people. We will raise funds at an annual interest rate of 6 per cent which is more than what the banks provide,” he said in the upper house.
It will benefit the public because they will get a certain return, he added.
During the question and answer session, the Minister for Road Transport and Highways said that despite Covid-19, the country has set several world records in road construction.
Construction of the Joji La Tunnel on the Srinagar-Leh Highway will be completed before 2024, and another Z-Morah tunnel will be completed within the next three months, he added.
Highlighting steps to connect complex roads with national highways in the Leh-Ladakh region, Gadkari said the government was building the Joji La Tunnel under Kargil and work was underway.
This tunnel is expected to be completed in 3.5 years. About a thousand workers are working inside the tunnel at a temperature of minus 6 degrees.
“I’m sure the tunnel will be ready before 2024,” he said.
The minister said that while the cost of the tunnel was estimated at Rs 11,000 crore in the tender, the government had made special efforts to reduce the cost to Rs 5,000 crore.
The Z-Morah tunnel is “more or less complete” and will be completed in the next three months, he said, adding that it would reduce travel time from Leh-Ladakh by 6 hours.
Further, the minister said that 24 green express highways with a length of 8,000 km would transform the road infrastructure of the country.
He said the pace of road construction has increased in the last seven years and there is no shortage of funds for the implementation of road projects.
Recalling US President John F. Kennedy, the minister said that Kennedy had said that America’s roads were not good because America was rich.
America is rich because America’s roads are good. “
Gadkari said India would also be a prosperous and successful country in the years to come as Indian road infrastructure would be up to the standards of the United States and Europe.
Citing delays in road projects before 2014, the minister said the pace of construction was then 12.7 kmph per day and many projects were stalled due to land acquisition, court cases and financial problems.
After the Modi government came to power, he said the government had reviewed 406 suspended road projects worth Rs 3.85 lakh crore and re-launched them. The resumption of these projects has saved banks about Rs 3 lakh crore in non-performing assets (NPAs).
The Minister further said that the speed of road construction has increased by 36 kms per day and by the end of FY 2021-22 it will increase to 45 kms, setting a new world record.
The country has already set three world records in road construction.
Firstly, India has set a world record for the highest road construction, and secondly, it has set a world record for the construction of Mumbai-Delhi Highway Express 2.
The third world record for construction of 5 km in 24 hours and 26 km of Solapur-Bijapur one lane road in just 22 hours, he added.
He said the construction of highways under the Gatshakti Bharatmala project has increased by 55 per cent to 1,40,936 km which will now be extended to another 2 lakh km.
The minister was answering questions from BJP members Prakash Javdekar and Syed Zafar Islam.
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