The Northeast border roads will cost Rs 3 lakh crore, Nitin Gadkari says

The union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari said Tuesday that India is investing in roads and highways worth Rs 3 lakh crore in its border areas near China in the Northeast. In light of the latest faceoff between Indian and Chinese troops near the border with Arunachal Pradesh, Gadkari made the remarks Tuesday.

“It is a sensitive matter. We’re working on it. Whether it’s in Arunachal, Meghalaya, or Tripura, we build roads and highways. “Ask any taxi driver there, they’ll tell you,” Gadkari said. In light of the “ups and downs” in bilateral ties with China over the last few years, he was asked whether India was building border roads.

All border areas are getting strategic connectivity projects, linking to the national highway system. In Kashmir, I’m building tunnels worth 60,000 crores. Wouldn’t that be cool? There are four tunnels I’m building from Manali to Rohtang. “I’m connecting Ladakh to Srinagar and then to Katra and then to Amritsar and Delhi,” Gadkari said.

Vandita Mishra, National Opinion Editor, The Indian Express, and Anant Goenka, Executive Director, Indian Express Group, talked with the Union Minister.

Additionally, Gadkari said he’ll ask states to raise the speed limit on national highways to 140 kmph on eight-lane expressways and 120 kmph on six-lanes, and he’s asked his Ministry to make lane rules for trucks and buses.

During his speech on road safety, Gadkari said he was passionate about reducing accidents. “About 60 percent of people who die in accidents are under 24. War and Covid kill so few people. Because of the same reason, two-wheelers can’t ride on expressways. Gadkari said he wasn’t for scrapping vintage vehicles in the proposed scrappage policy.

Gadkari says A B Vajpayee’s dream of a countrywide highway network is finally coming true. The 27 greenfield expressways I’m building are new roads like Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Dehradun. This will help backward areas develop,” he said.

Union minister Nitin Gadkari. (File Photo)

Gadkari talked about infrastructure, the economy, and politics without holding back. He said he wanted to build the highways with funds invested by the poor, not foreign money.

“Hindustan ke gareeb log hai, retired log hai… I give them an eight percent return on their investment. In case I take foreign funds in dollars, the dollar rate fluctuation is a big deal. Plus, I’d need a government guarantee (sovereign). He doesn’t want to deal with such hassles.

My first question to people with fund proposals is, do you need the Finance Ministry’s guarantee? He said, “If they say yes, I’d like to thank you very much, have your tea and leave.”

Ahead of a large-scale road infrastructure project, Gadkari said the country’s roads will be as good as those in America by 2024.

Nitin Gadkari talks with Indian Express Opinions Editor Vandita Mishra and Executive Director Anant Goenka in New Delhi on Tuesday. (File Photo)

I’m trying to get the road infrastructure as good as America before 2024, from Bihar to Northeast and elsewhere,” he said. We’re only working on 20 percent of what we’re working on right now, while 80 percent is in process.”

In order to generate jobs through infrastructure projects, Gadkari called for public-private partnerships. My budget is Rs 2 lakh crore, but I’m building roads worth Rs 5 lakh crore. Take the PPP money and give it (the infrastructure) to the poor for free,” he said.

Anant Goenka (middle) speaks with Nitin Gadkari (right), Indian Express Group executive director. (File Photo)

According to the former BJP president, political parties and their leaders are like a bicycle and the valves are their leaders. There are three things that make up a party: ideology, organization, and leadership. You can think of it as a cycle. Cyclists have tyres, tubes, and valves. Leaders are like valves. The cycle stops if the valve isn’t right,” he said.

When asked if the trend of a “virtually one-party assembly” would last, Gadkari said, “Anything can happen in cricket or politics.”

The country will have roads as good as those in America by the end of 2024, according to Nitin Gadkari, who oversees the Government’s ambitious road projects. (File Photo)

Gadkari elaborated by telling a story about a cricket match. When I was a kid, I watched India’s game at a stadium with the late Pramod Mahajan. By tea break, India had lost three wickets and was losing. Pramodji left the game thinking India would lose. I stayed home. You wouldn’t believe it, India won the match after he left! No one can say why someone wins or loses,” he said. I guess this is the right of the janata. It’s whatever the janata says.”

In response to another question, Gadkari said he doesn’t see anything wrong with Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.

A series of informal interactions organized by The Indian Express Group features those at the forefront of change. Guests at the Adda include S Jaishankar, Mansukh Mandaviya, Hardeep Singh Puri, Union Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs and Petroleum and Natural Gas, election strategist Prashant Kishor, and Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

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