Confident about his ministry’s initiatives to boost the road sector, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said he was hopeful of completing road projects worth Rs 7 lakh crore by fiscal 2019.
“Initially we had set ourselves a target of constructing Rs 5 lakh crore-worth projects in five years. But considering the pace at which we are progressing, I am hopeful that we will be able to complete projects worth Rs 7 lakh crore,” Gadkari said at an event here.
His ministry has so far awarded road projects worth Rs 1.5 lakh crore, he said. “Today the rate of progress is 30 km (of roads) per day. But in the next two years we want to increase this to 100 km per day and I think this is achievable,” he said.
The country at present has 96,000 km of national highways, which the ministry wants to expand to 1,50,000 km over this period, Gadkari said. “Maharashtra also has a huge potential to increase its state highway network….in the next five years Maharashtra alone can take up Rs 2 lakh crore-worth state road projects,” he said. The minister noted that it was necessary to bring down the cost of construction and the government was taking various initiatives to ensure India becomes competitive globally.
“We are taking various initiatives to reduce cost of construction…We are also studying the construction codes of countries like US and Germany and create a code for India which will help reduce the cost of construction by almost 15-20 per cent,” he said. There is no dearth of funds and the government can raise money by selling securities backed by future toll collections from national highways to finance road construction, he said. “Every year the budget for my ministry is increasing.
This year we had Rs 45,000 crore and over the next five years we expect this to increase to Rs 65,000-70,000 crore. Besides, we plan to securities our toll road projects. Currently, there are 61 projects which we have decided to securitise and expect to get Rs 1.10 lakh crore.
“Apart from these 61 projects, new projects will get added and we will be able to securitise them as well. Therefore we have enough funds, which can be utilised to take up many projects on public private partnership basis,” he said.