Pay highway toll if you want to save time on travel: Nitin Gadkari

Union Road Transport and Highways Minister says highway tolls here to stay.

July 16, 2019 10:36 pm | Updated 10:37 pm IST - New Delhi

Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari speaks in the Lok Sabha on July 16, 2019. Photo: PTI/LSTV

Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari speaks in the Lok Sabha on July 16, 2019. Photo: PTI/LSTV

Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said people should be willing to pay toll if they wanted to save time by travelling on good roads and made it clear that tolls were here to stay.

Toll zindagi bhar band nahi ho sakta... kam-zyaada ho saktha hai. Toll ka jaanamdata mein hoon (Toll system can never end though the rates may vary from time to time. Tolls are my brain child),” the Minister told the Lok Sabha.

“If you want good services, you have to pay for it,” he added as he stressed that the government funds were prioritised to build all-weather roads in rural and remote areas or hilly areas such as the northeast to improve connectivity.

Mr. Gadkari was replying to the debate on the demand for grants under the Road Transport and Highways Ministry.

E-toll system

He said that within the next four months, the electronic toll collection process would be put on fast track and made mandatory to avoid congestion at toll plazas.

He said over 40,000 km of roads had been constructed in the past five years and work totalling nearly ₹11 lakh crore had been awarded by the Ministry during this period.

To emphasise on the quality of road building, Mr. Gadkari referred to former U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s quote that “American roads are not good because America is rich, but America is rich because American roads are good.”

He said since land acquisition was a problem, especially in some States such as West Bengal and Bihar, his Ministry has made a rule that a project is started only when 80% of the land was acquired.

“There were 403 projects pending when Narendra Modi came to power involving a cost of ₹3.85 lakh crore. It is a great achievement of Indian government that we saved bankers ₹3 lakh crore of NPAs and now 90% of projects are moving fast,” he said.

Green expressway

The Minister also informed the House about a new green expressway that will enable road travel between New Delhi and Mumbai in 12 hours.

He said by working on a new route that would pass through backward and tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra, the Ministry would save ₹16,000 crore in land acquisition.

The Minister said pollution in Delhi had come down by 32% due to efforts such as building the peripheral expressway to enable trucks going to other States skip Delhi by taking the circular bypass.

He also said all new vehicles from April 1, 2020 will comply with Euro 6 emission norms, reducing pollution further, adding that the government was working on technology to make the use of electric vehicles cost-effective and attractive to users.

Training for drivers

The Minister said the country faced a shortage of 25 lakh trained drivers and promised MPs that he was willing to set up training institutes that could help youth find employment.

Expressing concern over the high rate of accidents, the Minister urged members to support the proposed amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act. When several MPs raised the issue of changes to the utilisation of the Central Road Fund in the Budget, Mr. Gadkari said he would talk to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

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