The Ministry of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping is considering henceforth to undertake highway building under EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) Model in place of PPP (Public Private Partnership). Briefing Newsmen after reviewing implementation of road projects in New Delhi today the Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Shri Nitin Gadkari said that financing at low interest rates is also being explored for this new model. He said over 260 projects involving about 60,000 crore rupees that were taken up in PPP model are currently stalled because of various reasons. Out of this amount, large percentage has also become Non Performing Assets (NPA) for the banks. The Minister had been reviewing such stalled projects in various States over the last two days and he said that solutions to such projects costing over forty thousand crore Rupees have been discussed and they are to be resolved now. In a review meeting relating to Madhya Pradesh today the State Chief Minister Shri Shivaraj Singh Chauhan and the Union Minister for Steel, Mines, Labour and Employment Shri Narendra Singh Tomar also participated.
The Minister said it is now proposed that all problems in the infrastructure sector would be resolved now at monthly meetings to be attended by Cabinet Secretary, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and representatives of various Ministries/Departments including those of Railways, Defence, Environment & Forests etc., Shri Gadkari proposes to convene such a meeting in about ten days and the agenda is being finalized to resolve issues that have come up during the two day review meeting. He said that a strategy of cooperation, coordination and communication will be adopted within the Government to resolve all such problems to develop infrastructure. He however said utmost importance will be given for ethics and environment besides the priority for economic progress.
Shri Nitin Gadkari announced that road building works amounting to about 20,000 crore rupees will be undertaken in Ladakh, Leh regions of Jammu & Kashmir to promote tourism besides the infrastructure. A tunnel alone is to cost 10,000 crore rupees. He also announced that a special corporation is proposed to be set up to undertake road projects in the North-eastern States of the country. In Uttarakhand works costing over five thousand crore rupess are to be started including those connecting important religious places. In Himachal Pradesh, separate roads are proposed to be built for coming and going as it is difficult to widen the same roads. He said as a special case, road contracts are proposed to be given for small stretches of 5 kms each in the Maoist affected areas of Chhattisgarh.
Gadkari said that after two years a target of building roads at a rate of 30 Kms per day will be set. He said currently it is even becoming difficult to build roads at a rate of 3 Kms per day. Pointing out the bottlenecks in the way of speedy completion of the highways which include problems relating to land acquisition, railway lines, environmental and forest department clearances and cash crunch facing the contractors, he hoped that the State Governments will also cooperate in this endeavor of building roads and developing infrastructure in the country. In reply to a question on problems of land acquisition in West Bengal, he said some of the land meant for road construction has even been encroached upon and that he would write letter to various Chief Ministers to resolve such issues. He said that State Chief Ministers will be requested to review all infrastructure projects.
The Minister said his ministry plans to take a decision in four months to adopt technology to re-plant all trees coming in the way of highway construction using a new system of uprooting the trees with huge machines and replanting them again. Shri Gadkari said such a system was also adopted in Gujarat earlier upon a suggestion by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi when he was the State Chief Minister. Shri Gadkari said that he is not satisfied with the works being undertaken by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). He had ordered a performance audit of the Border Road Organisation (BRO) to take a further decisionon whether works should be continued to be entrusted to the BRO or not.
The Minister said that NHAI officials have been instructed to take immediate remedial measures at about 450 identified ‘black spots’ where large accidents have been taking place to prevent loss of life. The Minister reviewed over 55 projects covering over 15,000 Kms over the two days. The meetings were attended by the Minister of State for Road Transport, Highways & Shipping Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar, Secretary and other senior officials of the Ministry, NHAI officials, Transport Secretaries, Commissioners and other officials of the State Governments.