We have saved banks Rs 3 lakh crore of NPAs: Nitin Gadkari

Nitin Gadkari, Union minister for road transport, shipping and water resources, spoke to ET about his ministries’ major projects. Edited excerpts:

On overlaps between Bharatmala and National Highways Development Project
We have added the remaining 10,000 km of NHDP (National Highways Development Project) to phase-I of Bharatmala. In phase-I (34,800 km), we have awarded projects worth Rs 1.44 lakh crore, covering over 6,000 km. We will award approximately another 10,000 km, costing Rs 2.5 lakh crore, by December.

On the progress after a paradigm shift in focus
When I took charge, there were 403 stalled projects worth Rs 3.85 lakh crore. 99% of those projects have been cleared. We have saved Indian banks Rs 3 lakh crore of NPAs. And the employment potential has improved. When I took charge, road construction had come down to 2 km per day. By March-end, it reached 28 km. By next March, it will be over 40 km.

On problems that plagued highway projects
Bottlenecks like land acquisition, utility shifting and forest clearance were causing delays. Now without acquiring 80% of the land, we don’t award projects. Most of our problems have been solved. We have stopped BOT (build-owntransfer) model for a bit. It depends on investor capability and banks’ ability. So we are awarding projects under the hybrid-annuity model. We have awarded 130135 projects worth Rs 1.5 lakh crore on the hybrid-annuity model. Out of that, 56 projects have achieved financial closure. We are also doing EPC (engineering, procurement, construction). We have a bundle of 105 projects worth Rs 1.3 lakh crore under EPC. Banks are finding it hard to finance projects, so we are telling them to lend to us and we’ll do the projects.

On the Sagarmala port development programme
It’s project-bound, port-led development. Port-led development means port-road connectivity, port-rail connectivity, modernisation and mechanisation of ports and construction of new ports. We have 12 major ports and we are trying to build six new ports. Out of Rs 5 lakh crore worth of projects for port connectivity and modernisation, work has begun on Rs 2.80 lakh crore worth of projects. Projects worth Rs 50,000-60,000 crore.

On Ganga rejuvenation
We have 250 projects on the Ganga and its tributaries. We are doing 34 projects on the Yamuna alone. We have 12 in Delhi and work has started on all but one. By the end of March, we’ll clean 70-80% of Ganga’s waters.

On his legacy
I don’t know. It’s for you to find out. I just concentrate on my work day and night. We are fully transparent and believe in corruption-free, time-bound, result-oriented and fast-track decision-making. No contractor needs to come to me.


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