Govt eyes common man's savings to fund highway projects

The government is working on several innovative investment models to attract funds for the highway projects, including a model for attracting investment from the savings of the common man, giving them assured returns, union minister for road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday.

Gadkari said new financing models are being developed and there will be no shortage of funds for highways projects even as the Lok Sabha passed the demands for grants under road transport and highways for 2019-20 by a voice vote.
The minister has assured Parliament that his ministry, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will continue giving a thrust to building world class transport infrastructure in the country. 
Gadkari said his minister has awarded road projects worth about Rs11 lakh crore during the past five years. He said over 57,000 km of national highways were awarded and over 40,000 km of highways were constructed in the last five years, which is an exponential rise over the figures for the previous five years. 
Further, he said, the budget allocation for his ministry has increased by about Rs5,000 crore. In addition, several innovative investment models are being worked out to attract funds for the sector. This would include a model for attracting investment from the savings of the common man, giving them assured returns. Gadkari assured that even though the cost for Bharatmala has gone up from Rs5,35,000 crore to about Rs8,41000 crore due to increase in cost of land acquisition, there will be no shortage of funds for the projects.
The minister reiterated the government’s resolve to provide special focus on road safety. He said, the ministry has identified 786 black spots which are prone to accidents and 300 such spots have been rectified till now. Gadkari further informed the House that the Asian Development bank (ADB) has sanctioned Rs7,000 crore for adopting safety measures on highways. 
In this regard, Gadkari called upon all members to lend support to the Motor Vehicles ( Amendment ) Bill 2019 in which stringent laws have been proposed for ensuring safety on roads.
Gadkari further said that the electronic toll collection process will be put on fast track and mandatory for easy passage of traffic, avoiding long queues in the toll plazas.
Gadkari said that Bharat stage-VI pollution norms will be introduced by April 2020 and electric and bio fuel  run vehicles will soon be on roads.