IL&FS projects to be resolved in 100 days: Nitin Gadkari
Innovative funding for infra projects, job creation in the MSME segment in focus.
Gadkari, who is also minister of micro, small & medium enterprises in the Narendra Modi government that took charge last week, spelt out his priorities in an interview to ET. He promised innovative funding for infrastructure projects and policies centred on job creation in the MSME segment.
The BJP, in its manifesto for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, said it would invest Rs 100 lakh crore in the country’s infrastructure by 2024. Of this, about Rs 15 lakh crore is expected to be spent on roads, Gadkari said.
“It should be Rs 15 lakh crore in the roads sector alone. Apart from this, there will be new medical colleges and money will also go into housing and railways,” he said.
17 Locations for Road-cum-Airstrips
The financial crisis at IL&FS, with many of its subsidiaries in default, has affected the projects that it had been executing.
“Stuck projects — like those of IL&FS — I will resolve all those projects in 100 days. I want to bring down the number of stuck projects to zero. There are about 25-30 stuck projects of IL&FS,” Gadkari said in the wide ranging interaction.
IL&FS Transportation Networks India Ltd., the roads unit of IL&FS, has more than 14,000 lane-km in a portfolio of over 30 projects. IL&FS had said it plans to divest its interests in road assets, including four under-construction projects that would aggregate about 1,736 lane km when completed.
Gadkari said that while the agenda for the ministry is already defined, it is trying to find innovative ways to fund highway projects. The ministry has identified some 3,000 km of highway stretches with high traffic density, which he suggested should be offered under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) mode.
He pointed out that the pace of road construction has accelerated to 34 km per year from 12 km per year under the Manmohan Singh-headed UPA government. Gadkari has already set a fresh target of 40 km a day.
Talking about the new government’s first budget to be presented on July 5, Gadkari said that in addition to toll revenue, his ministry should be allotted funds that can be used to further invest in building roads.
Gadkari said the ministry has identified 17 locations, especially near border areas, to develop roadcum-airstrips.
Over the past five years, Gadkari said orders worth Rs 17 lakh crore were placed under key projects of his ministries, including Bharatmala, a pan-India scheme to build and improve roads.
Of this Rs 17 lakh crore, Rs 11.5 lakh crore went to roads and Rs 5 lakh crore were orders for shipping. Work in his ministries was carried out in a “transparent, time-bound, result-oriented” manner, he said. “When I joined as roads minister, then over 400 projects worth Rs 3,85,000 crore were pending. We have started 95% of those. We terminated those projects which were not feasible anymore. We have saved the Indian banks of NPAs worth Rs 3 lakh crore,” he added.
Gadkari said the BJP won a second term in the Lok Sabha elections because of its pro-people policies, including Ayushman Bharat offering health insurance for 100 million poor people, the Ujjwala Yojana providing clean cooking gas to replace polluting fuels and housing for all.
He said that demonetisation in November 2016 projected the government as an anti-corruption crusader, especially among the poor.
“I think this (demonetisation) chapter is closed now. In future, we will concentrate on policies around increasing employment,” Gadkari said.