Union Road and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday spelled out his mantra to take the tourism sector in the country to newer heights. He suggested the stakeholders in the sector to adopt three basic formulas — the PPP model, immediate environment clearances and innovative ideas — that could, backed by a strong political will, go a long way in paying rich dividends.
Highlighting the work on 22 Green corridors, a dedicated Mumbai-Delhi Expressway and a direct road connectivity to Mansarovar which will help in the growth and generation of employment in the tourism sector, Gadkari said, India under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on the path of becoming a tourism giant.
Speaking at the Exotica Tourism Summit organized by The Pioneer, Gadkari said tourism has great employment potential and this is the way forward to eradicate poverty from the country. Gadkari said the country’s ‘ethno structure’ requires a great improvement if we need to augment tourism.
Known for dishing out numbers and statistics at will, the Union Minister said 22 projects comprising 7,500 km of Greenfield expressways and corridors, costing Rs 3.10 lakh crore, are planned to be completed by 2025 and all through different modes including PPP.
“We will complete the flagship Mumbai- Delhi Expressway in the next three years. This will be India’s longest expressway at 1,320 km and will reduce travel time between Delhi and Mumbai from 24 hours to 13 hours,” Gadkari said at the Summit sharing the dais with The Pioneer Editor Dr Chandan Mitra.
On his prime role as Road and Transport Minister, Gadkari said he has been continuously working to take the load off 80 per cent traffic on road by making a total of 1,80,000 network of highways as against the present norm of 40 percent traffic on only two percent of road infrastructure.
Talking about religious tourism, the Road Minister said his agenda for the current year is completing the about Rs 12,000-crore Char Dham project with weather connectivity roads to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
He also said efforts are on to complete a highway through Uttarakhand for making the Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra easy. “The work is about to be completed and will be commissioned anytime soon. Ppeople can visit Mansarovar through Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand,” he outlined.
“I have also taken a keen interest in developing our very own Auli (Uttarakhand) near Joshimath which can be a destination like Davos in Switzerland. I am in talks with Uttarakhand government on this project so that several world-level conferences can be brought to the small place which is more scenic than Switzerland,” said Gadkari, known to give the country’s first Tolled Expressway between Pune and Mumbai.
Gadkari also shared details of his inland waterway and ports projects which, according to him, have immense potential for the tourism sector besides the commercial aspects. He said very soon India will also become a destination for cruise tourism and pointed out that the present Varanasi to Haldia water project will be expanded till Bangladesh and further till Myanmar making it easier for freight movement right from Punjab till Myanmar which will be cost effective and above all less polluting.
On the occasion, Mitra, a former Rajya Sabha member, termed Gadkari as the most competent and popular minister in the Modi cabinet and exuded confidence that the ambitious projects lined up and talked about so passionately by the Minister will be completed within deadlines.
Gadkari, who is holding several portfolios including Shipping, received a huge round of applause from the audience as Dr Mitra praised this ambitious project.
Tagged as the infrastructure man of the country, Gadkari in his first tenure of the Modi government did a lot of work for Ganga Rejuvenation as part of the Namami Gange project.