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No Dearth Of Money To Build Roads: Gadkari

The government will stick to its road construction target of 40 km a day even if it is expected to miss it by a big margin in the ongoing and the next financial year.

“I am confident that money is not a problem. What we need is transparent, time-bound and result-oriented decisions,” said Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for road, transport, highways and shipping.

The government is keen to build 12 expressways in the country with Delhi-Meerut, and Mumbai-Vadodara being put on fast track. The high-speed corridors will spur economic growth, he said.

After a stagnant phase between 2010-11 and 2014-15, growth has picked up in highway sector contracts. The National Highways Authority of India managed to construct 8,100 kilometres of roads in the year ended March, a little over half the target. It’s still the highest ever and Nomura expects the construction to exceed 10,000 km in the near term.

Gadkari said his ministry has already planned and identified 105 toll road projects worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore that they will monetise, if need be. The government’s yearly toll income is about Rs 10,000 crore.

The current budget for the road sector is Rs 65,000 crore which can go up to Rs 75,000-80,000 crore for the next fiscal, Gadkari said on the sidelines of the listing of Cochin Shipyard Ltd. on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Delays in projects are a result of environmental clearances, land acquisition and to some extent slow decision-making by the bureaucracy, he said.

On building national highways, Gadkari said his ministry is likely to achieve about 23 km per day for the year ending March 2018 and should touch an average 28 km in the next financial year.

“I don’t know (whether I will achieve or not) but I am confident that by end of March 2018, I will try to complete my target,” he said.

Huge Potential For Shipbuilding

There is a huge potential for shipbuilding and repair and inland waterways could be a game-changer, said Gadkari, as state-run Cochin Shipyard, country’s second largest ship builder, made its stock market debut.

The government has already converted 111 rivers for inland waterways and is in the process of converting 10 more rivers, he said. “My ambition is to make 2,000 river ports in the country just like airports.”

The minister said the government has already started work worth Rs 4000 crore and received a sanction of Rs 5,000 crore from the World Bank for developing inland waterways in the Ganga.

The ministry has plans to develop a cruise terminal in Mumbai as part of efforts to promote water tourism in the country, he said.

. Read more on Business by BloombergQuint.