Nitin Gadkari, who assumed charge on Thursday as the minister for road transport & highways and shipping, is against the idea of a regulator for roads.
“A regulator would mean going back to licence raj and we are against it,” he said, when asked about setting up one in the roads sector. Road builders have been asking for one to resolve various contract disputes and renegotiate others. And, in his Budget speech last year, then Finance Minister P Chidambaram had proposed to set up an independent regulator for the sector, though the Planning Commission said there was no need.
Gadkari said the focus would be on hastening road projects stuck for long. Projects worth Rs 83,000 crore are pending. Since 2009, the government has recorded the completion of only three projects, adding only 315 km to the existing highways' network.
The roads and highways ministry will also work towards finalising a toll policy.
“It is my dream to restore the sacred Ganga's glory and utilise this ancient river's full potential by using it as a waterway, from Gangotri to Kanpur and Kanpur to Patna, to transport cargo,” said the minister. “I will meet key officials of the ministry to chart out ways for transforming this ancient river into a mode for cargo and public transport. We will assess the possibilities of dredging and other measures.”
He said there’d be an emphasis on usage of inland waterways and coastal shipping for cheaper and environmental-friendly transport.