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Waterways our future; focus on curbing road mishaps: Gadkari

Rishma Kapur & Deepak Kumar

Freight cost for delivering goods from Mumbai to Dubai is cheaper than transporting them from Mumbai to Delhi, says Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport, Highways & Shipping.

Gadkari was speaking at the Lokmat Infra Conclave in Mumbai on Tuesday.

This, he says, is due to emphasis given to the road for freight rather than rail and waterways. Roadways constitute 60 percent of all freight traffic in the country.

The need of the hour is to develop waterways, railways and roadways together, believes Gadkari.

Make in India will never come into existence if we keep relying on roadways. 
“Waterways will be our future,” Gadkari said, adding that this will help reduce pressure on road and railways.

For development of the sector, administrative reforms are needed. While there is no issue of funds or technology in India, the mindset of the people needs to change, Gadkari says.

Corruption-free, transparency, quick-decision making and time-bound projects are needed to boost the sector. Of the 403 stalled projects at the start of 2014, the government has resolved 92-93 percent of them.

Another high priority area for the government is to reduce road accidents, which have increased by 4 percent under the BJP government.

Around 450 accident prone areas have been identified and efforts are underway to decongest them by widening roads to reduce bottle-necks and install crash barriers and solar lights.

Acquiring land for these refurbishment projects has hardly been an issue, says Gadkari. The problem lies with environment clearances that have bogged down projects.

He is optimistic and aims to reduce accidents by 50 percent in the government’s remaining tenure.