Toll roads are here to stay: Nitin Gadkari

Union minister Nitin Gadkari. (PTI Photo)

Toll roads are here to stay for eternity, road transport minister Nitin Gadkari told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

At the same time, Gadkari assured the members that he would minimise the waiting period at toll booths on highways by making electronic toll collection mandatory for all vehicles within the next four months.

“Toll zindagi bhar band nahi ho sakta... kam zyaada ho saktha hai (toll can never end, but there can be some increase or reduction in the rates),” Gadkari said responding to a discussion in the Lok Sabha on the Demands for Grants for the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.

“If you want good services, you have to pay for it. The government does not have money...,” Gadkari said adding that his ministry was executing projects worth Rs 8.5 lakh crores when it has a budget of Rs 83,000 crores.

He said the government would like to spend its funds in rural areas and highways in urbanised states will have to be built by raising extra-budgetary resources.

In his two-hour reply, the minister gave Lok Sabha members a glimpse into his plans for the transport infrastructure in the country that included 22 green expressways, electric trailers for freight movement, state-of-the-art public transport systems.

Gadkari also stressed on road safety and rued about the non-serious approach to traffic rules. He made a strong pitch for stringent laws and forceful implementation and urged the members to pass the Motor Vehicle (Amendment) Bill, expected to be taken up for passage by Lok Sabha during the ongoing monsoon session.

With members voicing concern toll rates, the minister assured them that he would examine proposals to exempt school buses and state transport vehicle from paying toll on highways.

Flagging the shortage of trained drivers in the country, Gadkari expressed readiness to set up training centres in each of the 543 Lok Sabha constituencies, particularly in tribal and backward areas.

Underlining that land acquisition is a major problem in road construction projects, he urged the state governments to come out with solutions and help find a way out.

Gadkari said the Ministry has identified 786 black spots which were prone to accidents and 300 such spots have been rectified till now.

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