Chandigarh: Union minister Nitin Gadkari Thursday said development has always been the top agenda of the Narendra Modi government and in the last five years the Centre has given impetus to infrastructure projects. Addressing an intellectuals’ meet here, Gadkari said the NDA government’s thrust has been on diversification of agriculture into energy and power sector.
Chandigarh’s sitting BJP MP Kirron Kher and the party’s city unit chief Sanjay Tandon were also present at the meet. “In the last five years under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, our government has changed India’s image. We have given impetus to infrastructure and laid out network of roads… Development has always been on top of our agenda,” Gadkari said.
With increase in the volume of vehicular traffic in Chandigarh, the Centre has mooted starting a double-decker sky bus service, he said, adding, “It will run on electricity and help reduce pollution caused by diesel. We will take up this project at priority in Chandigarh.” The Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways informed the gathering that work on Meerut-Delhi expressway will be completed within a month which will bring down travel time from “four hours to 45 minutes”.
“We are building the Rs 1 lakh crore Delhi-Mumbai expressway, which will start from Gurgaon (Haryana) and pass through Alwar and Sawai Madhopur (Rajasthan), Ratlam (Madhya Pradesh) and Vadodara (Gujarat). Once completed, the journey can be completed in 12 hours,” Gadkari said. “We are trying to complete the work on highway from Ludhiana to Chandigarh, which will help cut down travel time of commuters by about an hour,” he said.
Gadkari said there was tremendous scope of alternate clean fuels in the country and can generate a large number of jobs and benefit the farmers. “Ethanol economy in the country is Rs 11,000 crore, which has the potential to reach Rs 2 lakh crore… Our petrol-diesel import bill is Rs 8 lakh crore and we import Rs 10 lakh crore worth plastic,” the Union Minister said. Batting for bio-CNG and ethanol, he said, “150 buses in Nagpur will be run on bio-CNG, a cost-effective option.” Referring to stubble burning which is a huge problem in Punjab and Haryana causing environmental pollution, Gadkari said, “Bio-CNG can be prepared from this stubble and farmers stand to benefit. It will help strengthen agricultural income and generate employment.”
Speaking about the Indus Water Treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, he hit out at the neighbouring nation for not following the spirit of the agreement. “In 1960, the agreement by name of Indus Water Treaty was signed by Ayub Khan and Jawaharlal Nehru. Six rivers involved in this. Water of three rivers went to our country and Pakistan got share in three rivers flowing to that country from India.
“When I went through the contents of this treaty, I found that Pakistan was not following the key points and spirit of the treaty instead they were harbouring terrorism and indulging in proxy war against us. “We told Pakistan that if you have to stop aiding and abetting terrorism, we will be left with no other option to stop the water. I have asked my department to prepare DPRs (detailed report) in this regard as Pakistan was not following the points mentioned in the treaty. Then why should India give waters?” he posed.
Gadkari, who also holds the Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation portfolio, said the Centre had recently decided to take up a major project to link the Godavari and the Cauvery rivers that would resolve water issues between southern states. On the water dispute between Punjab and Haryana, the Union minister said that he spoke to the chief ministers of the two states on many occasions in the past.
“There is no dearth of water, but what we need is water management. We have prepared a scheme which will end the dispute between the two states,” he said. Asserting that the BJP government has laid emphasis on building water transport, Gadkari said in a lighter vein, “From Allahabad to Varanasi we made waterway, and taking benefit of this Priyanka Gandhi travelled on this route.”
“In my ministry, there has been time-bound, result-oriented, corruption-free execution of projects. Credit for this does not go to us, but the people who have elected us,” he said and praised Kirron Kher for “vociferously” raising issues of Chandigarh in Parliament. “If Kirron ji is a bullet train, then I and Modi ji will act like her engine and my appeal to the people is to re-elect her to accelerate the development works in the city,” Gadkari said.