New Delhi: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways will take the approval of the Cabinet for permission to build Smart City, Township, Logistic Park and Industrial Complex near the National Highway. Addressing the program organized digitally, Gadkari said that his aim is to create a global level highway network. The Ministry of Highways has prepared a plan to market the existing highway projects to get capital for infrastructure.
Gadkari said, ‘Now we have prepared a cabinet note for approval to build townships, smart cities, logistics parks, industrial complexes along the highway. We are creating more than 400 different types of facilities for the comfortable travel of people along the roads. Gadkari said that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways is submitting the plan for the second phase of Bharatmala project. The project is of 65,000 to 70,000 kms, while claims worth Rs 41,500 crore are proposed to be settled.
no compromise on quality
The minister also said, ‘We are making parking plaza, logistic park. We are now planning to build tunnels worth Rs 2.5 lakh crore. According to Gadkari, the use of steel and cement in road construction should be reduced without compromising on quality through innovation and research. Responding to a question on the rising cost of road projects, he said, “What you are saying is correct. But I don’t know what are the terms of the contract. We will look at the contract terms and then look into these issues.
The minister acknowledged that the rising cost for road projects is a serious issue. He has asked the contractors to submit proposals to the ministry. He said, ‘I am positive about it but we are also bound by the contract. We will try to find a way out. On the recent trend of bidding below the bid price for many projects, Gadkari said he is aware that some laxity in the bidding norms by the ministry has angered many big contractors.
competition between contractors
“There should be competition among the contractors (for road projects) and it is also not true that contractors who pay low prices for the work, they compromise on the quality of work,” he said. According to the minister, the contractors will have to reduce the construction cost to survive in the market. Gadkari said, “It is a thing of the past that there used to be 5-7 big companies in the construction sector. These companies used to take contracts in connivance and I understand the game of technical and financial eligibility very well.
He said that there is no dearth of funds and people are waiting to invest in the infrastructure sector. Gadkari also said that the Delhi-Meerut Expressway will be inaugurated soon. According to the minister, the National Highways Authority of India will raise Rs 5,000 crore through the Infrastructure Investment Trust. Of this, about Rs 2,000 crore will be raised from bonds and Rs 3,000 crore from investors. He also said that the ministry is planning to raise Rs 1 lakh crore by putting the highways on the market on the basis of Toll Collection-Operate and Hand over (ToT) model through NHAI.
He said that the use of steel and cement should be reduced without compromising on the quality in road construction. CNG, LNG and Ethanol should be used in road equipment machinery. The minister stressed on import reduction, cost-effective, pollution-free and indigenous methods and development of alternative fuels. Gadkari said that India is the second largest road network in the world with about 63 lakh km of road network.
The government is investing over $400 billion, or Rs 111 lakh crore, in infrastructure development through the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP). He said the government has increased capital expenditure for infrastructure by 34 per cent to Rs 5.54 lakh crore on an annual basis. Increased investment in the infrastructure sector will help in job creation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The minister said that he has a target to build 60,000 km of national highways of global standard at the rate of 40 km per day.
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