Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Monday called for strengthening of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to ensure speedy construction of roads."The road sector is moving very fast. We have solved the problem of land acquisition. Also, budget and financial arrangements are not a problem anymore. However, we are suffering due to slow decision making, and red-tapism in the banking system," Gadkari said while speaking at the Growth Net summit here. "If we want to convert a BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) in to EPC (Engineering Procurement Construction), there is no response (from the government departments concerned. So we will have to strengthen the power of the NHAI, like (involving) Finance Secretary in its board. Our proposal is with the government. The cabinet will take a decision," Gadkari said.
Gadkari said his government has decided to increase the network of the national highways from the existing 96,000 km to two lakh km. "By the end of March, we will be able to sanction projects worth Rs 15,000 crore. But I am not satisfied. I want to move faster," he said.Gadkari, however, cleared that building waterways and their promotion was the first priority for his ministry. "We have decided to turn 111 rivers into waterways. We will be able to transport material like cement to north-eastern states using waterways in the Ganga river via Bangladesh, which will be quite cheaper (compared to road transport)," Gadkari said. He added that the government has planned to stress on promotion of green transport. "I have decided to make all MRTS (Mass Rapid Transit System) projects in the country electric-operated," he said.