Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, today said that the government’s drastic decision to demonetise old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes had contributed in a growth of Rs 7 lakh crore in revenue receipts in the past three years.
Speaking about the benefits of demonetisation, Gadkari said, “When we formed the government, the revenue receipt was 13 lakh crore. Now the revenue receipt is 20 lakh crore. Demonetisation contributed in this 7 lakh crore growth. I am sure that GST will also contribute in this.”
Referring to demonetisation and GST as the “two historic decisions of the government”, Gadkari said the revenue receipt will rise to Rs 30 lakh crore in the coming years.
Participating in IndiaTV’s ‘Samvaad’ conclave, Gadkari said the pace of road construction in the NDA government till March this year had reached 23 km per day, adding that the government has constructed 16,800 km road in one year.
The minister also announced that the government has developed a ‘river traffic control’ system that will be similar to ‘air traffic control’ between Haldia and Patna.
“The project will be launched soon,” he said, adding that works on Rs 4,000 crore project between Haldia and Varanasi is already underway.
Gadkari further announced that the he will soon launch five star and seven star cruise in river Ganga.
On Delhi’s traffic woes and rising air pollution, Gadkari said that by August, ‘city’s traffic problems will be reduced by half’.
Between Dhaula Kuan in Delhi and Manesar in Gurugram, the minister said that he was considering a proposal to construct a flyway.
“Between Delhi and Chandigarh, we are constructing two roads. Work on direct road between Delhi and Katra will start soon. For Badrinath and Kedarnath, works are underway on a Rs 12,000 crore project,” he informed.
Speaking about the projects of his ministry, the Minister said that schemes were stalled due to delay in clearances from various departments and delay in making decision.
“Four years ago, I had sold toilet water in Nagpur for Rs 18 crore. I believe in conversion of waste into wealth…,” Gadkari quipped as he said that the projects that are running today were almost NPAs.
Gadkari also rubbished the reports of Prime Minister Narendra Modi interfering in the functioning of other ministries. The Nagpur MP, however, said that he had on many occasions sought help from PM and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to clear the files.
“Prime Minister encourages us to work. Everything is done in a transparent manner. He (PM) is the head of the government and he has right to review the works,” the Union Minister noted.
To a question related to poor sanitation in Delhi, he replied: “You can’t blame Modiji for everything. MCD should answer, but how Modiji is responsible?”
Gadkari also took the opportunity to recognise that the work on tunnel on the Jammu-Srinagar NH, which was inaugurated recently by the PM, was started during Congress regime.
Gadkari also brushed aside attempts to link fringe outfits with the BJP and also said that the BJP never has and never will extend any support to any outfit that takes law in their own hands.
“Hindu Yuva Vahini has no link with the BJP. Hindu Vahini existed when I was the BJP president. If anyone has done something wrong, it is wrong. But how can this be linked to BJP?” he replied when asked about incidents of violence against alleged ‘love jihad’ in UP’s Bulandshahr.
“A section of media has agenda to target BJP, VHP…. They have decided to brand us as anti-Muslim. Riots are wrong…. But when it happens in a state where BJP is in power, the issue is often blown out of proportion,” he said.
“We (BJP) don’t believe in taking law in our hands,” he said.
Answering audience querries in the course of the interaction, Gadkari also ruled out the possibility of toll taxes being scrapped on India’s highways.
“Earlier, between Mumbai and Pune, one has to drive for 11 hours. But after the expressway was made operational, the travel time was reduced to two hours. When you avail good service, you will have to pay,” he said, adding that the government needs funds to complete the projects within stipulated time.
The minister also said that all infrastructure projects that were stuck in the previous government’s tenure were now operational.