Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said people have to pay the toll if they want good roads, making it clear that the toll system would stay as the government does not have enough funds. Replying to a discussion on demands for grants for the Road Transport and Highways Ministry in the Lok Sabha, he said the government built 40, 000 km of highway in the last five years.
Amid concerns expressed by some members over the collection of toll in different parts of the country, Gadkari said that money collected through toll from those areas which have the capacity to pay is utilised for building roads in rural and hilly areas.
Underlining that land acquisition is a major problem in road construction projects, Gadkari urged that state governments should come out with solutions and help find a way out.
He said that his ministry was not moving forward with the project without 80 per cent of land acquisition and this principle is being followed very strictly. Gadkari said land acquisition process is very slow in West Bengal and Bihar.
Noting that more than 400 projects worth Rs 3.85 lakh crore were closed when he assumed charge of the ministry in 2014, Gadkari said the Modi government saved NPAs worth Rs 3 lakh crore during the past five years by beginning work on these projects.
“There were 403 projects pending when Narendra Modi came to power involving a cost of Rs 3.85 lakh crore. It is a great achievement of Indian government that we saved bankers of Rs 3 lakh crore of NPAs and now 90 per cent of projects are moving fast,” he said.
Gadkari also informed the House that the ministry is working on a new green expressway from New Delhi to Mumbai which can be covered in 12 hours. It will pass through the most backward and tribal areas of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra and also save Rs 16000 crore in land acquisition.
Expressing pain over the deaths caused by road accidents, he said his ministry had identified 786 black spots and added that poor engineering is one of the main reasons for them. Responding to the demands of several MPs, he said he will consider if school buses or state transport buses can be exempted from tolls.