In the recently-concluded Financial Express CFO awards, Road Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari called for decongestion of Indian roads. He said that “India is populated in terms of people and automobiles.” Gadkari has announced plans on building expressways for electric cars, cable cars, and even multi-story flyovers to tackle traffic woes in India, especially in a city like Bengaluru.
Speaking to Anant Goenka, the Executive Director of The Indian Express Group, Gadkari recalled the days when the Mumbai-Pune Expressway was built. The government initially raise tenders and the lowest was from Reliance, who gave an estimate of Rs 3,600 crore, however, Gadkari’s estimate was around Rs 1,600 crore. One led to another and eventually, instead of handing over the project to the lowest bidder – Reliance – it was rejected.
Gadkari added, “During that time, Anil Ambani was the Chairman of Reliance, and he was not happy with the decision.” Later, the government decided to raise capital from the market and founded his organisation, raised the required funds, and the expressway came to be what it is today.
There have been other corridors as well, such as the Bengaluru-Mysore expressway, Delhi-Dheradun, Delhi-Amritstar, Delhi-Jaipur, and the proposed Bengaluru-Chennai amongst others that have cut travel time drastically. The Minister points out how Jet Airways had 8 flights between Mumbai and Pune, and after the expressway, there are no flights now. He is confident that more flight routes will cease to exist shortly.
Nitin Gadkari is confident that money is not the problem towards development, while there are multiple other factors such as the implementation of technology, availability of land in certain places, and general congestion.
Gadkari added that for a person travelling from Delhi to Dehradun, it takes longer by flight than by road, which the latter takes under 3 hours. However, when asked about traffic in Bengaluru, Gadkari had no answer but said that there are options such as making satellite cities and decentralising the industrial area.