Budget support not needed for Rs.25 lakh cr. plan: Gadkari

New Delhi,SOMESH JHA:Union Road Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said the government has lined up a Rs 25 lakh crore plan for investments in the sector over the next five years.

We plan to set up an Infrastructure Finance Corporation, says Nitin Gadkari. —PHOTO: V. SUDERSHAN

The investments, he said, could be funded without depending on budgetary support from the Finance Ministry. Mr. Gadkari has also proposed a new Infrastructure Finance Corporation to raise foreign funds for investments in highways, ports and shipping.

“I am not dependent on the Finance Ministry for funds. I have targeted spending Rs 25 lakh crore. I am not amongst those ministers who make shallow promises. I say what I mean and I mean it,” Mr. Gadkari said.

“I plan to set up an Infrastructure Finance Corporation on the lines of Power Trading Corporation. We have floated a Cabinet note. We plan to attract foreign funds,” the minister said. With private sector players on its board, the Power Trading Corporation was set up in 1999 in a bid to provide credit risk mitigation to private power project developers.

‘More time’
Urging people to give the government ‘more time’ to deliver, Mr Gadkari said the economy will be at par with China and there will be robust employment generation going forward.

Gadkari is expected to accompany Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his trip to Iran on May 22-23 to sign a pact on developing Chabahar port through a new global company to be set up with equity stakes from India’s Kandla and JNPT ports.

“We have formed a global company and Kandla port and JNPT (Jawaharlal Nehru Port) has claimed equity in it. We will build the port and return it to Iran in some years,” Mr. Gadkari said.

Car safety standards
The government will examine the results of the recent global car safety tests that five Indian cars couldn’t pass but stressed that safety needs to be balanced with the need to keep cars affordable for the people.

“If we conform to Western standards, the cost of vehicle can go up by 15 per cent and if that happens, it will hit the affordability of the people,” he said.

The minister said land acquisition, forest and environment clearances were not an issue for the highways sector but the decision-making process in the administration was.

“My problem is not related to land acquisition and environment clearance. My problem is addressing the decision-making process in administration,” he said.

Despite these constraints, the government has resolved the deadlock between banks and road contractors in hundreds of stuck projects.

“When I became the highways minister, 403 projects worth Rs.3.85 lakh crore were stalled and today, only 14-15 projects worth Rs.30,000 crore are languishing and the problems relating to the rest are solved. Had I not addressed those issues, the banks’ NPAs (non-performing assets) would have shot up to Rs.3 lakh crore. I have saved the bankers and the industrialists from this trap,” he said. The government has terminated 43 projects so far, the minister said, adding fresh tenders have been issued