As Road Transport and Highways Minister, Kamal Nath set an ambitious target to build 20 km of road per day, although his final record was only 12 km per day. As he took over as Urban Development Minister on Thursday, Mr. Nath announced an equally ambitious plan: to make the Delhi Metro bigger than the London Underground by 2017.
"Urban transportation is one of the biggest challenges today,” said Mr. Nath, saying that he aimed to increase the Delhi Metro network to 415 km in the next six years. Currently, the network spans 190 km, including the yet-to-be-completed airport line. The London Underground currently has a network of 402 km and plans to add 12 km soon.
Mr. Nath dismissed the suggestion that he was a high profile Minister who had been transferred to a low profile Ministry in the Cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday. “There is no question of profile. At the end of the day, it is your work that matters,” he said. “I will credit the momentum from Road Transport… I am very happy now with a new challenge in Urban Development.”
Apart from transport, the major challenge in the Indian urban sector, which contributes over 60 per cent to the national GDP, is the need to expand cities, said Mr. Nath. “The dispersal of cities is a major priority, to expand so that demand does not remain localised to one area,” he said.
He promised to take steps to increase private sector participation in affordable housing construction, adding that the Real Estate Regulator Bill would be another key priority.