Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, during the Agenda AajTak 21, said the Modi government is building around 26 new green express highways, which will make the road network stronger in the country.
Gadkari said the roads can bring prosperity to a nation, and that the government has set some crucial targets for the next two years.
The roads network in India is developing very fast, and more than the government, people can explain this better as they are experiencing this. "I keep on receiving good feedback from the common people via SMS," said the Union minister.
He said earlier, from Meerut to Delhi, people used to spend around four hours and 30 minutes travelling, and that now it has been reduced to just 40-45 minutes.
"Prime Minister Narendra Modi tomorrow will conduct a 'bhumi puja' ceremony of the Delhi-Dehradoon expressway, via which people will be able to go from Delhi to Dehradoon in just two hours," he said.
Speaking about the government ambitious road projects, the minister added: "Similarly, (people will be able to reach) Haridwar in two hours; two hours (from Delhi) to Jaipur; two hours from Delhi to Chandigarh; four hours (from Delhi) to Amritsar. In six hours (from Delhi) to Katara and over 8 hours (from Delhi) to Sri Nagar. Also, Delhi to Mumbai in 12 hours."
All these targets will be achieved in the next two years, he said.
On the government's push for electric vehicles, Gadkari said: "Whenever I am in Delhi, I get infection early morning due to pollution. We all are getting affected due to the pollution. In Delhi alone, Air Quality Index (AQI) has gone to 450-500."
The minister said there are various reasons for it and one among them is petrol and diesel cars. "So our policy is import-substitute, cost-effective, pollution-free and indigenous."
"We are currently importing petroleum products worth Rs 8 lakh crore, and at this speed, it will rise to Rs 25 lakh crore. So we are working on all kinds of alternatives, and let me tell you, we don't want to shut down the petrol and diesel vehicles. They will remain but people will have options," he said.
Giving an example, the minister said "if you travel by a petrol car, 1 km cost is around Rs 10; for diesel, it is Rs 7. But for an electric vehicle, it's just Re 1."
"Flex engine, which means 100 per cent petrol and 100 per cent ethanol, and such vehicles are prevalent in Brazil and Canada. The prices of such vehicles are the same as in India," he said.
As per the minister, all these options will be people a choice. "Scooter, auto-rickshaw or cars, you could get ethanol for Rs 62 but petrol will be priced at Rs 120. All this will not only help in saving the environment but will also make farmers economically strong, and imports will also reduce," he said.
On his reputation as a saviour for the government that's facing strong opposition on rising fuel prices, the minister said: "In my office, I have written a statement by former US president John Kennedy, which says "American roads are not good because America is rich, but America is rich because American roads are good"," he said, adding that roads bring a country real prosperity.
In this respect, India also set three world records recently, he said. "Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, we achieved the highest national highway construction of 38 km per day, which at one point had started from 2 km per day. Secondly, at Delhi-Mumbai express highway near Vadodara, a 2.5 km 4-lane concrete road was made in 24 hours. Also, Solapur-Vijapur one-lane 20km bitumen road was made in just 22 hours. All these roads went to the Guinness Book of World Record," the minister said.
Copyright©2022 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today