Kamal Nath takes on Ahluwalia over highway projects

Plan panel deputy chief an armchair advisor

Kamal Nath takes on Ahluwalia over highway projects

At a seminar on state highways organised by the Planning Commission here, Kamal Nath openly criticised the panel saying “Planning Commission is an armchair advisor”.
An embarrassed Ahluwalia, who was sharing the dais with minister, maintained that the plan panel was not an implementing body. Trying to play down the free hold criticism by the minister, Ahluwalia said the minister’s remarks would be taken as a “constructive criticism” and would be acted upon.

Kamal Nath has been criticising the Planning Commission ever since he became the Transport Minister. It all started when Nath declared that his ministry would build 20 km of highways a day by mid-2010 to expedite the road-building works in the country. However, the plan panel lowered the target saying the ministry was over-ambitious and said the target should be realistic.

Though the road-building process has picked up pace after Nath came to the helm of affairs in the ministry, it could achieve only 14 km a day against 20 km per day target so far due to various problems like delay in acquiring land and tendering problems.

The spar even once forced the Prime Minister’s Office to intervene. Subsequently, the Cabinet Secretary held an inter ministerial meet to sort out the problems coming in the way of achieving the target.   “When I joined this ministry, everyone told me that the Planning Commission will never let you do it,” said Nath.

“The country would not have got its first world-class airport in the national Capital if the Planning Commission was involved in the project,” said Nath.  He even questioned the quality of reports produced by the the panel. “You (Planning Commission) collect something from here, something from there and produce a book. It is all very well when you are an armchair advisor,” he remarked.  Nath said the Planning Commission, with all its experts, may not be aware of the ground realities that vary from state to state.

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