• Roads Sector Plagued By Lack Of Political Will, Not Shortage Of Funds: Nitin Gadkari

    The ministry for road transport is not facing any shortage of funds and is confident of achieving the road construction target for the current fiscal year, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said.
    “You are all welcome to invest in the sector but I want to give out the message that I am not depending on anybody (for money),” Gadkari said at a Bloomberg event on Monday.
    Speaking about where this money is coming, he said that his ministry’s budget is Rs 55,000 crore for the current fiscal, which will amount to Rs 2 lakh crore over the next three years. In addition, the ministry can raise up to Rs 70,000 crore by issuing bonds and another Rs 1 lakh crore by monetisation of toll projects, he said. Further, ports are also generating profits and project turnover in that segment is around Rs 4,000 crore.
    “So money is not the problem. Strong political will is the most important thing,” Gadkari said.
    Will The Ambitious Target Be Met?
    The minister said he is confident of achieving the ambitious target of road construction set for this fiscal. At the start of the year, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) set an ambitious target of awarding 15,000 km of road and highway projects while an additional 10,000 km worth of projects were to be awarded by the road ministry. The NHAI later scaled back its target to 6,600 km.
    But he added that the system has to be geared to make time-bound decisions, “I am very much confident, but there is problem with the system. We need some improvement in the mindset of people working for government. We need positive, transparent and time-bound approach, fast track decision making and team work.”
    The problem lies not with land acquisition or shortage of funding, but with “the mindset of the people working in the system”, he said.
    Our toll income is Rs 10,000 crore. If we can securitise this income we get Rs 2 lakh crore from the market. We can raise bonds worth Rs 70,000 crore. We can issue masala bonds, we have people ready to invest in it.
    Nitin Gadkari, Road Transport & Highways Minister
    But Pace Is A Problem..
    However, he said that fewer projects were awarded so far in this fiscal year compared to the first half of the last fiscal, party because several projects are stuck in green courts. Apprehension on the part of banks to lend to infrastructure projects also slowed down project approvals.
    But the minister sounded confident about the future as he said that as many as 95 percent of stalled road projects are now back on track.
    For every project, we have conducted 8-10 meetings and we have solved the problem. At the time when I took charge, there were 403 projects that were stalled with a total cost of Rs 3.85 lakh crore. Presently we have only 4-5 projects pending.
    Nitin Gadkari, Road Transport & Highways Minister
    The sentiment towards the infrastructure sector has now improved, he added.
    However, the problems plaguing the sector have not been completely solved, he said. “In public private partnership (PPP) projects, the health of investors is not good. All companies face a lot of problems. At the time, I took charge, they were in ICU, now they are shifted to general ward,” he added. David Mayo Womens Jersey

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